Helpless puppy abandoned at only one-day old survives against all odds

August 21, 2019

Dumped on a doorstep before his eyes even opened, Lemon’s survival was an absolute miracle. 

The newborn puppy was no more than 24-hours old when RSPCA South Australia Rescue Officer Jo rushed to save him.

Helpless Lemon had been abandoned on the steps of a Golden Grove veterinary clinic overnight and was so small that he literally fit in the palm of Jo’s hand.

“He was the tiniest puppy I had ever seen,” she recalls.

“I wasn’t even sure he would survive the day.”

Experienced RSPCA foster carer bottle feeds tiny Lemon every 2 hours

With no time to waste, Rescue Officer Jo wrapped Lemon in soft blankets, placed him atop a gently warmed heat pad and raced him to our shelter.

Our worried veterinarians gave baby Lemon just a 20% chance of survival.

For this tiny Maltese puppy who had survived the freezing night without shelter, food or warmth, it wasn’t looking good.

Experienced foster carer and RSPCA staff member Deb immediately offered to look after the helpless puppy, all the while knowing a difficult road lay ahead.

Like many orphan puppies, one reason Lemon’s survival rate was so low was because he was missing out on the rich antibodies and growth hormones present in a mother’s milk.

For the first two weeks, Deb bottle-fed fragile Lemon every two hours with a specially formulated and highly nutritious puppy milk.

“It’s expensive, but it gave him the best chance of survival,” Deb says.

Daily weigh-ins and temperature checks as Lemon starts to grow

It was support from compassionate people like you that gave Lemon the chance to survive his dangerous first few days, against some seriously tough odds, and bottle feeding wasn’t the only thing Lemon needed to stay alive.

Deb weighed him every day and checked his temperature frequently to make sure he was steadily gaining weight and didn’t go into life-threatening shock.

In addition to hours of love and care, Lemon needed warm blankets, a soft bed, heating aids, sterilised bottles, neonatal milk formula and, eventually, immunisations – just like all orphaned baby animals.

By the time Lemon was six weeks old, he moved to his next foster home with Nicole and Tyler.

“RSPCA made it possible for us to foster Lemon by taking care of everything financially. They were always there to support us when needed so we were able to give Lemon the best possible care,” Nicole says.

And a happy ending was just around the corner.

Temporary foster home turns into long term love for brave little Lemon

As soon as Lemon was ready for adoption Nicole jumped at the chance of a ‘foster fail’ and welcomed the adorable Maltese into her home forever.

Lemon is now officially the family superstar. He attends every Christmas, birthday and special occasion, making everyone happy with his big doggy smile.

“It just isn’t the same when he isn’t here,” Nicole says.

The superstar of his family, Lemon now spends his days with endless playing and toys

When the cheeky little one isn’t lapping up his family’s attention, he can be found running figure eights around his favourite flower beds.

Lemon also loves hanging out in his special doggy tent with his toy friends, including his favourite toy rat – a gift of comfort he was given while still in RSPCA care at the very start of his journey.

But his outcome could have been so different.

Little Lemon would have died without foster care, and he would have been alone.

We are so grateful that our supporters made sure we could be there for Lemon during his rough start to life, so that he could grow healthy and strong and find a loving home.

There really is nothing more rewarding than giving the gift of life.

Lemon only has people like you to thank for his survival. To save more baby animals and help them find a loving home,  please donate today.

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