A Shih Tzu mother of three puppies has taken one extra baby -- a squirrel -- under her paw and is raising it as her own, our colleagues at KTLA report.
Princess, the admirable surrogate mother, belongs to Doug and Corinne Thomas of Agoura Hills. A neighbor found the tiny infant squirrel, a female, after she was apparently abandoned by her mother. But the neighbor had no luck convincing the baby to eat and worried about her chances for survival. A plan was hatched: Give the tiny creature to Princess, who had recently given birth to her own litter.
In short order, Princess was caring for the squirrel as if it were her own offspring, and the Thomases say that both squirrel and puppies are thriving.
"If humans could be more like Princess and the squirrel and the little pups, we would all get along a lot better," Corinne Thomas told KTLA. "It doesn't matter what you have on the outside, it's on the inside."
When she's not busy with parenting duties, Princess is a therapy dog, working with autistic children. When the puppies are old enough, the Thomases hope they'll receive new homes where they can follow in their mother's footsteps -- with families raising autistic kids.
As for the squirrel -- whom they've given the (let's face it) rather uninspired name "Squirl" -- the Thomases plan to keep her, since she can't be rereleased into the wild. They hope she also will join her adoptive mother and work with autistic kids in the future.
-- Lindsay Barnett