6 min read

Puppy Named After Ryan Lochte Because She Was Born 'Air-Swimming'

Hazel was pregnant when she was brought into Florida's Alachua County Animal Services as a stray. The shelter was already over capacity and staffers knew they wouldn't be able to care for both Hazel and her puppies - so they put her on the list to be put down.

The shelter sends out a list to local rescues of dogs who are going to be put down unless they are pulled, and Hazel was included on that list. Haile's Angels Pet Rescue saw poor pregnant Hazel on the list and desperately wanted to help her, but they also had no room for her.

The rescue tried for a week to figure out how to save her - until finally, the night before she was scheduled to be put down, the group found a wonderful foster family to take her in.

"Because we had absolutely no physical room in our facility, we kept our fingers crossed she would be pulled by another rescue, but no one else had stepped up by late Tuesday night," Cassie Wheeler, the rescue director, told The Dodo. "We sent out an emergency plea to all of our fosters via email and on our Facebook page and luckily we had a great family step up to take Hazel and her pups."

The day Hazel was pulled, the rescue was being interviewed by a local news station about another dog it had recently helped. Hazel had just arrived and was resting on a bed in the lobby right near where the interview was happening - when she started to go into labor.

The rescuers immediately snapped into action and drove Hazel to a nearby volunteer's house where she could have her babies in peace. On the way there, Hazel welcomed her first puppy, a baby girl. They named her Chevy - because the car she was born in was a Chevrolet.

Hazel gave birth to five more puppies after Chevy, but sadly, all five were stillborn.

"Hazel was on her own for quite a while, and without proper nutrition and care, it seems several of her puppies simply weren't able to survive," Wheeler said.

They assumed Chevy would be her only puppy - until the seventh puppy was born, alive.

"The last puppy she had was a second little girl who came out doggy paddling," Wheeler said. "We named her 'Ryan' in honor of Ryan Lochte, a local hero because he is a University of Florida alum and a multiple gold medal Olympic swimmer."

It seems only fitting that Hazel's last puppy, who survived against all odds, was named after an Olympic athlete, who perseveres - and never gives up - every single day.

Even though most of her puppies didn't make it, Hazel seems thrilled to have Chevy and Ryan, and has been a fantastic and attentive mother so far.

"Everyone is healthy and happy," Wheeler said. "They are all growing strong in their wonderful foster home where they have a few furry foster siblings of their own."

The foster family is planning on adopting Hazel, and someone has already stepped up and claimed Ryan. Little Chevy is still available for adoption, but such a cutie is likely to get adopted very, very soon.

Hazel and her little family almost didn't make it, and now they're happy, healthy and ready to enjoy the rest of their lives.

If you'd like to adopt a pet of your own, you can check out Adopt-a-Pet.com to get started.

Check out a video of dogs air-swimming below: