By Tia Lynn Ivey
Humans aren’t the only ones in isolation these days. A new batch of puppies, dubbed “The Quaranteenies,” are sheltering-place, too, but still have managed to become the latest Internet sensation. Morgan County rescuers Courtney Bryson and Dr. Renee Ussery live stream the litter of 10 and Mama dog “Emma Quarantina” while reading a children’s bedtime story every evening to put a little joy back into the world during this unprecedented pandemic.
Bryson and Ussery founded “The Rescue Ranch” in Rutledge, originally intended to be a Boston Terrier rescue, focusing on the medically-fragile. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit and Renee began working from home, Courtney and Renee saw Emma, a 60-pound pitbull posted on the Morgan County Animal Control’s (MCAC) Friends of Morgan Animals Facebook page.
“Emma had just arrived to MCAC after being abandoned on a property. She was very pregnant and due to give birth any day. MCAC was asking for someone to step up and be a rescue or foster family for her so she didn’t have to give birth in the shelter.
Courtney and Renee decided to take in the pregnant pup just in the nick of time.
“Renee knew we could be that family for her, especially with us both staying home during the pandemic,” said Courtney. “We have fostered multiple pregnant mothers and litters in the past, so we felt comfortable knowing what to expect. We were not however, expecting Emma to give birth on March 25 to 10 puppies just four days after she came into our home!”
In light of the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s focus on health and safety, Courtney and Renee named each of the puppies after cleaning products.
“It just seemed fitting in our current situation,” said Courtney.
The puppies names are Squeaky, Comet, Ajax, Cheer, Borax, Zest, Murphy, Bounty, Bubbles and Meyers. This litter of “Quaranteenies” is bringing smiles and soothing vibes to people each and every night via Facebook Live streaming.
Courtney and Renee have shared moments with their rescue dogs on social media before, but in these perilous and uncertain times, a little puppy love seems to be exactly what people need.
“As a rescue that specializes in medically fragile Boston Terriers (and other short nosed breeds), we have been sharing the lives of our foster dogs for years on social media, but this is the first time we’re broadcasting live every night,” explained Courtney. “The bedtime stories each night is our way of sharing the puppy cuddles virtually. We love sharing the babies with people across the world. Knowing people are watching with their children to have a little something positive every day is so special. We love seeing people comment where they are tuning in from and telling us how soothing it is to watch the puppies each night.”
Viewers have become attached to the pups, watching them grow and change before their very eyes, even if it is through a screen.
“We’re also able to share all the milestones the puppies reach from opening their eyes at two weeks, to being introduced to a potty area at three weeks, and now experiencing new smells and toys daily,” said Courtney.
The couple reads a bedtime story at the end of each LIVE Stream. They don’t have children of their own, but reading children’s bedtime stories each night has brought joy and comfort to many children and families across the world.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d be reading children’s stories,” Renee said. “But a lot of people love it. Say it’s their daily therapy!”
After story time, the puppies transition to their mama Emma for some dinner.
Courtney and Renee are grateful for how people across country have come through to help them care for Emma and her pups.
“We’ve also been able to team up with local small businesses like Pet Wants in Madison for people to purchase food for Emma and her babies that we pick up curbside. Helping our community, rescues helping each other, supporting our small businesses, and sharing resources is the best thing we can do in times like this,” said Courtney.
The puppies will be available for adoption in several weeks.
“Emma is a sixty pound pit bull mix, and though we’ve asked her… she isn’t talking about dad.,” joked Courtney. “We expect the puppies to grow to be large dogs. The puppies and Emma’s adoption will be handled by the Morgan County Animal Control when they are ready. We expect them to be adoptable between 8-10 weeks of age depending on vetting schedules.”
To follow the journey of Emma and her pups, tune in nightly at 9 p.m. for live-streamed time with the puppies on Facebook. www.facebook.com/therescueranch.
Courtney is a pet photographer & Renee is a clinical psychologist at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, in addition to being the founders of the Rescue Ranch.