When Dee Marie took in Emi and her seven puppies, she could immediately tell they were a close little family. From the very first day, the puppies slept together in one big pile, and Emi was always nearby to make sure her pups were safe.

“She’s been such a doting mother,” Marie told The Dodo, “and is always just feet away ready to check on them.”

Emi and her puppies were placed in their foster home by the non-profit Northern Critters In Need. Emi’s family lives in a remote community without access to regular vet care, and when she became pregnant, they reached out for help.

“Where we live in northwestern Ontario, there are a lot of very remote communities — many fly-in only,” Marie said. “It can be difficult if not impossible to access even basic vet care and pet supplies.”

Marie stepped up to foster Emi and her puppies until they were old enough for adoption, and soon learned each dog had a unique personality.

“The pups are a very charismatic bunch,” Marie said. “Aang has always led the puppy pack. He is incredibly vocal and confident, and all the others would sit behind him waiting for orders every morning.”

When the pups aren’t being bossed around by their brother, they’re busy sleeping together in one big pile. Marie thought that as the pups grew, they’d want their own space — but things didn’t turn out the way she expected.

“We like to get the pups used to being in a crate young so they associate it with being a calm place of rest,” Marie said. “And this litter understood the assignment and began sleeping in puppy piles right away.”

Once they began getting bigger, Marie added another crate to give them space to spread out. But the puppies ignored the extra crate, continuing to squeeze themselves into the original one.

“Despite having the extra room, they’d just keep cramming themselves into the one crate,” Marie said. “Who can blame them, though? It’s the ultimate snuggle puddle!”

The foster puppies have now tripled in size since they were first introduced to their crates, and they refuse to sleep apart.

“They’ll be damned if they don’t still find a way to cram in to nap like furry little sardines,” Marie said.

Now that the puppies are 9 weeks old, they’ve slowly been leaving Marie’s home to go live with their forever families.

Once all the puppies are adopted, Mama Emi will be spayed and return to live with her original family. But she won’t be alone. Aang will join his mom, where they will continue to be a cuddle puddle of two.

“I’m glad she will be able to keep one of her pups as a best friend for life,” Marie said.