An abandoned mother dog finds a classroom of affection and appreciation for her family of 12

Chloe with a pilot from the rescue group Pilots for Paws.
Chloe with a pilot from the rescue group Pilots for Paws.
(Courtesy of Helen Woodward Animal Center)

In the world of animal welfare, it is heart that makes a family. An abandoned mother dog has been “schooled” in this beautiful lesson by one special Helen Woodward Animal Center foster volunteer named Ami Askins and her classroom of 3rd and 4th graders at Los Penasquitos Elementary School. Without a family and late into her pregnancy, the shepherd-blend named Chloe received an emergency flight to the Center in search of safety and a place to give birth. Now Chloe and her beautiful litter of 12 have a place to rest while nursing, along with a true education in love.

The financial strain caused by the pandemic has made its mark on people across the world. Late April, in southern New Mexico, a family in financial trouble moved from their home and, tragically, abandoned Chloe, left gated in the backyard. The situation would have been dire if neighbors had not become aware of the pregnant dog and reached out to a rescue group to help.

Realizing that Chloe was only days from birth, the rescue group contacted Pilots for Paws who scheduled her for a flight to Helen Woodward Animal Center. On April 30, Chloe waddled on board, nearly full-term in her pregnancy. Upon landing, the mother dog received her medical check and was whisked into the home of Ami Askins, a devoted foster volunteer who teaches social studies and science at Los Penasquitos Elementary.

Chloe with some of her beautiful litter of 12.
Chloe with some of her beautiful litter of 12.

(Photos Courtesy of Helen Woodward Animal Center)

Knowing her students would love Chloe, Askins shared her story and began to cover animal adaptions and traits in her class curriculum. Days later, Chloe gave birth to an enormous litter of 12.

“The students were ecstatic,” said Askins. “They loved hearing about Chloe’s puppies.”

Askins began to integrate updates on the newborns’ progress into daily lessons, holding regular conversations about the different stages of development and sharing insights about the foster experience that students are normally not exposed to.

“We loved hearing the updates from Ami,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center Foster Program Lead Hannah Wilson. “There was something so touching about the fact that Chloe had been left without a family and now had a loving foster and a whole classroom of children who wanted to know how she was doing every single day.”

When Askins reported that the children were hoping that they could name the puppies, Wilson agreed.

“They were so invested in their health and survival and they seemed like the perfect ones to pick the names,” explained Wilson.

Chloe and her puppies (Brownie, CC, Clay, Coco, Cookie, Duke, Goldie, Lola, Lucky, Moonlight, Muffin and Sunny) are healthy and almost ready to search for their final forever homes. In the meantime, a classroom of love has provided a good education on the meaning of family.

Chloe’s puppies will be available for adoption in the next two weeks. Chloe will go available for adoption a few weeks after her pups. For more information on Helen Woodward Animal Center or to adopt, go online at or call (858) 756-4117 x313. — Helen Woodward Animal Center news release