For a child desperately craving their very first dog, surprise birthday parties are great, but surprise puppies are in a category all by themselves. When the children in this gallery got their very first dogs, they were thrilled beyond belief. For two of the girls, the dog helped soothe some of the pain from losing a person who was very close to them. The girls in this story all found their lives changed forever through the love of a dog.
16. “I Want a Dog!”
Tatum was desperate for a puppy. Like most kids her age, that meant she started driving her parents nuts with pleas for a dog. Everytime Tatum asked for a dog, her mother said no. Dogs were time-consuming and required lots of attention and car, the mom warned her daughter. That did not deter Tatum.
15. “We Aren’t Ready For a Dog”
Despite her mother’s insistence that they were not ready for a dog, Tatum continued to ask for one. The precocious child even picked out a name for her hypothetical future puppy: Winston. She would see a puppy on the streets or in a store and exclaim “Look Mom, it’s Winston!”
14. Celebrating Birthday
Tatum was celebrating her birthday one night when a family friend happened to walk by their table outside. The friend was holding the cutest puppy Tatum had ever seen. It was a poochon, which is a goldendoodle and bichon frise mix. Then Tatum got the shock of her life!
13. “His Name is Winston”
When the mother asked what the dog was named, the friend replied “Winston!” Tatum was stunned. Her jaw dropped and she grabbed her face. How had the family friend managed to name her new puppy Winston?!? But that was not the end of the surprise for Tatum.
12. “Do You Want to Hold Him?”
“We heard you wanted to name your dog Winston,” the friend said. “And I loved it!” Tatum was undoubtedly feeling mixed emotions as she reached out to pet the curly puppy, who was just a few weeks old. Then the friend asked if she wanted to hold the puppy. Of course she did.
11. A Secret Revealed
When Tatum held the dog, she was thrilled. Everyone could see her emotions. Then Tatum’s mom asked for her attention. Now the secret was ready to spill. “One week before her actual birthday, my good friend and her son helped us create the big surprise. They posed as new dog owners of a sweet little poochon.”
10. “Happy Birthday!”
The puppy was a birthday present for Tatum all along. Tatum wasn’t in on the sweet surprise until the dog was in her arms and her mother looked straight at her and said “Happy Birthday!” Tatum was confused for a minute as she let the meaning of the words sink in. Winston was hers, her very own first puppy!
9. Tears of Joy
Then Tatum cried cheers of joy. She clutched the dog tightly and leaned back into her chair. Predictably, her brother laughed at this show of girl emotion. “That’s hilarious,” he said as the camera rolled. Tatum had received her dream gift and her mother had captured it all on video.
8. An Army Dad
Tatum wasn’t the only little girl to receive a puppy as a present. Eva and Mla Raguso got one too, but their story is very different. You see, their father Chris was a Master Sergeant in the Army. When Eva was five and Mila was seven, they begged Chris and their mother Carmella for a puppy.
7. After Deployment Ends
Chris agreed that they could get the dog, after many years of the kids asking. “My husband and I have always found an excuse to not get a dog. But it was time,” Carmela said. However, the dog was conditional – they would only get the dog when Chris’ deployment ended. “We talked about when Chris got home from his deployment, we would make it a big surprise.”
6. Tragedy Strikes
But tragedy struck. Chris never made it home from deployment. Chris Raguso died in a helicopter crash just one day before his birthday. He left a wife and two children who were shattered by his loss. The girls had nightmares for weeks after his death. Then they got a lifeline they never expected.
5. Paws of War
The charity Paws of War is dedicated to pairing veterans with rescue dogs. They heard about the Raguso family and Chris’ promise of a dog. Robert Misseri, a volunteer, started searching the kill shelters for the perfect dog for the two heartbroken little girls. They had no idea what was coming.
4. Calvin the Black Lab
Misseri found the perfect dog in a Louisiana shelter. His name was Calvin and he was a black Lab. Calvin arrived on their doorstep along with food and toys, all donated from Paws of War. The girls were shocked and thrilled. They finally had something to smile about.
3. Something Good
“We needed today,” Carmela explained on the day Calvin joined their family. “This was a good thing for us. We needed happy, something genuinely happy, something to keep their minds off the everyday and something to take care of.”
2. One Final Gift
Now the girls have a best friend to cuddle, play with, love and care for. Dogs are great at providing emotional support, and that’s exactly what the dog has done for this family. As Misseri noted, “This pup Calvin will help the children sleep better!” And it has worked like a charm. It’s as if Chris gave his girls one final gift.
1. Life-Changing Dogs
Although the circumstances were vastly different, the end result was the same: three little girls had a life-changing birthday present through the love of a dog. Their joy is contagious, and may have you finally deciding that your kids are ready to assume the responsibility of pet ownership.