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'Miracle' little dog inspired rescue group

The Marshmallow Foundation is a 501c (3) non-profit started in conjunction with the city pound at Lucky Dog Boarding and Training Center, LLC in Detroit Lakes. Lucky Dog received the Detroit Lakes City Pound contract in March of 2006. Over the next few months the cities of Audubon, Callaway, Frazee and Lake Park also contracted with Lucky Dog for pound services.

Between these cities and accepting a limited number of surrendered animals, Lucky Dog was taking in, caring for and attempting to find owners for or re-home 600-650 animals per year. The pound contracts covered the first five business days of boarding. After that the animals became the property, and financial responsibility, of Lucky Dog.

There were several rescues to work with in finding placements for unclaimed dogs; however finding homes for all the stray cats was a much more difficult assignment. The original plan was to utilize the non-profit to support the needs of some of these longer term cats.

As a non-profit, the Marshmallow Foundation could also partner with PetSmart in West Fargo for the purpose of adopting out the cats, and on special events, adopting out some dogs.

The name Marshmallow came from the rescue of a little chocolate Lab that occurred in December of 2006. Here is her story.

Hot Cocoa and her 11 marshmallows

Cocoa's story is actually more of a miracle than a tail, or rather tale. Cocoa came to the attention of the local Sheriff's Department of Corydon, Iowa, in early December 2006. She had been abandoned, locked in a house for nearly three weeks.

The little chocolate Lab was obviously pregnant when she arrived at the Corydon Veterinary Clinic. Dubbed Hot Cocoa, she became the special project of Dr. Cassandra Krenz, DVM. Cocoa was found to be free of fleas and negative for heartworm. Her age was estimated at 1-2 years but probably closer to one year. An ultra sound showed six puppies however Krenz suspected that there might be more. Cocoa's story went out over the Internet to Lab people across the country.

Pru Konley of Dent picked up the cause and orchestrated a relay from Corydon to Detroit Lakes. Cocoa arrived at Lucky Dog Boarding and Training Center, LLC on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006. She was very pregnant but in surprisingly good shape considering her ordeal. Cocoa weighed in at 56 pounds. She was switched from adult food to puppy kibble and started on a pro-biotic supplement.

As a noisy, busy kennel was not a good environment to whelp a litter of puppies, Hot Cocoa was moved to the Wiedewitsch farm and took up residency in the heated shop. There Pru Konley and Linda Wiedewitsch traded off the night shifts of monitoring her progress.

Wednesday Cocoa lost interest in food and began some serious nesting. Mary Holsen took that night shift and delivered the first puppy at 4:45 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14. By 6 a.m. there were six puppies, three black, three chocolate, three males, and three females. We congratulated Cocoa on a beautiful litter of puppies. Cocoa, however was not done and went on to add another five black females to the group. The crew was soon referred to as Cocoa and her marshmallows.

The puppies weighed in between 12 and 15 ounces. Although small, all seemed to be strong and healthy. Cocoa took to motherhood like a pro, treating the pups gently and providing a lunch bar that rivaled a Holstein.

Although she only weighted 48 pounds after whelping, her appetite grew right along with her puppies. At the height of nursing, Cocoa managed to consume an astounding two cans of wet food plus 9-11 cups of dry food and a quart of chicken broth diluted in water per day.

Cocoa watched visitors very closely when they were around the pups, however willingly allowed her caregivers to handle and care for the pups as needed. Although they started life on the small side, the pups grew fast and developed right on schedule. They progressed through all the milestones of opening their eyes, finding their voices, waddling, sitting, wrestling and running without a hitch.

Through five weeks of nursing 11 puppies Cocoa managed to gain two pounds and improve her coat condition. At six weeks Cocoa made the decision to close the lunch counter for good. She was happy to play with the pups and sleep next to the kennel but that was as close as she cared to be. Cocoa did her job well; at seven weeks the puppies weighed in between 7.2 and 9.8 pounds.

Many people participated in the rescue of Cocoa and her puppies. Starting in Iowa with Dr. Krenz and her clinic staff, through the relay to Detroit Lakes to her stay with Lucky Dog owners Mary Holsen and Linda Wiedewitsch, the support was incredible.

WDAY/Channel 6 of Fargo, N.D., covered Cocoa's story on the evening news, prompting a flurry of phone calls offering adoptive homes. Cash donations were sent from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Georgia. TRIAD and FM105.1, Fargo, ND granted a Christmas Wish of $250 for Cocoa and her Marshmallows. Nutro Products donated 80 pounds of puppy food. Dr. Krenz donated the puppies' first vaccinations plus Pyrantal, Heartgard, Frontline and a bag of food for Cocoa. Pru Konley donated the use of her whelping box and associated puppy equipment in addition to supplying Cocoa with Swanson's chicken broth by the quart.

Pru also photographed Cocoa's family weekly and posted their progress on the Internet. Team Cocoa picked up Pru's messages and kept everyone informed on the web of how Hot Cocoa and her Marshmallows were doing.

By seven weeks the pups were ready to start their new adventures with another group of great people, their new families. All eleven puppies had homes waiting to pick them up. They traveled to points in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa. Cocoa stayed until she was spayed and later found a great home. She and some of the pups have honored us with return visits.

Cocoa's success gave rise to the desire to help as many animals as we can safely and legally (by Board of Animal Health licensing) house and adequately care for.

Expanded services

Today the Marshmallow Foundation has grown considerably and is able to help provide medical support to homeless dogs as well as the cats. The board of directors has been expanded; budgets and fundraising goals are being set for 2011. New officers were elected in January for the upcoming year.

If you have an interest in animals and rescue work and would like to be a part of the Marshmallow Foundation, please contact us at 218-847-4100 or