“[Her] tail did not stop wagging”
When Poppy arrived at Carter Cifelli’s home in Raleigh, North Carolina, she looked as though she’d been through a lot.
“She was obviously very pregnant, exhausted, filthy,” Cifelli told The Dodo. “She had a yucky cough and was skinny and hungry. Wherever she had been prior, she clearly had not been well cared for.”
So Cifelli knew that Poppy needed some love ASAP.
Cifelli, who took Poppy in as a foster, said that the pregnant pup was “immediately so sweet and trusting even though we had just met and she likely has not been given many reasons to trust humans.”
“Her tail would wag, and she loved being sweet-talked to,” Cifelli said. “She was very tired since she was sick and pregnant, so she settled right in and just seemed so thankful to be somewhere clean and safe.”
Poppy was at Cifelli’s house for less than two days when the puppies started to arrive.
“It was a total surprise,” Cifelli said. “Her labor was quick and very smooth. She had clearly done this before and was a seasoned pro. Her babies were all very healthy!”
After the puppies arrived and were a few weeks old, Cifelli knew it was time for Poppy’s first bath. “She was very dirty from her life prior to being rescued and from taking care of seven puppies,” Cifelli said.
And Cifelli had a feeling Poppy would really enjoy the experience. When she had first arrived at Cifelli’s house, Cifelli had to clean her eyes several times a day, and Poppy actually seemed to love that gentle minute of personal care.
“She loved getting the extra attention and was so calm,” Cifelli said.
So, Cifelli came up with an idea to make the experience one Poppy would never forget.
“She was such a sweet dog and an amazing mom, and clearly had not been receiving basic care — much less being spoiled — before being rescued, so I wanted to do something a little extra special for this extra special girl,” Cifelli said. “So, Poppy’s spa day was born!”
Poppy was bathed in a milk bath sprinkled with flower petals and was gently scrubbed clean of her past life. “She mostly just loved all of the encouragement she received throughout [the bath] and the scratches,” Cifelli said.
“Then she had her very own bathrobe, which was very soft and I’m sure felt great to her,” Cifelli added. “She was all dried off and then given a paw massage with coconut oil for her dry paw pads. And of course, [she was] offered chicken broth in a champagne glass because she’s a classy lady!”
“She thoroughly enjoyed every second of the attention, and her tail did not stop wagging,” Cifelli said.
The love and care Poppy experienced during her spa day didn’t stop when her fur was dry. Shortly after raising her litter, Poppy was adopted by a loving family, and all her puppies found homes, too.
“All of her puppies were adopted, and I regularly get updates from several of them!” Cifelli said. “They are all HUGE now and are beloved members of their families. It is the sweetest feeling in the world!”
Cifelli is a huge advocate for spoiling her foster dogs because it’s often the foster parents who are the first ones to show them kindness and affection.
“I love spoiling my foster pups — especially the mama dogs!” she said. “Most of them have been living outside, without proper nutrition or shelter, so to see them experience things other dogs take for granted (like napping on a couch [or] having a full belly) is so incredible.”
“I have some little traditions that I like to do with my foster dogs before they leave my house to go to the rescue to get adopted, almost as a good luck send-off,” she continued. “They all get a good bath so they are nice and clean, and some scrambled eggs as a yummy treat.”
She then likes to take them on a field trip to take a walk, explore a park, grab a pup cup and enjoy the day.
“To be able to give them their first pup cup, scrambled eggs, a luxurious spa day, a fun field trip for some quality time — and see their eyes light up and tail start wagging as they realize their life just got a whole lot better — is worth all of the hard work and heartbreak that comes with fostering and rescuing,” Cifelli said.
She continued, “It’s my small way of appreciating them for all of the work they’ve completed in getting their puppies raised — and a celebration that it’s the last time they’ll have to raise a litter.”
Cifelli is honored to be the first person to give Poppy some much-needed personalized attention, and now that she’s in her forever home, every day is Poppy Day (as it should be!).
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