When it comes to puppies, there's no such thing as too much cuteness — although this litter of a dozen goldendoodles might be pushing the limit.
The puppies, born in late May, were brought to Midland Animal Clinic in central Michigan for their first checkup on July 15. Once there, the staff posed for an endearing photo with the litter and their mother, a goldendoodle named Mokey.
"You could just see everyone's faces light up," Dr. Karen Mikols, a veterinarian at the clinic, told TODAY. "Everyone wanted to cuddle one or hold one or comfort them while we were doing our exam.”
The staff weren’t the only ones in awe. When Midland Animal Clinic later posted the image to its Facebook page, the post quickly went viral — at least by the clinic’s standards.
"We've all been in shock," said Mikols, adding that the puppies are on their way to good homes because of the post.
But what started out as an effort to help the puppies find new homes evolved, on the Facebook post, into a broader discussion about the merits of adoption over buying coveted breeds.
"This was an accidental breeding, so the owner was not planning for this," Mikols said. "They had gotten Mokey when she wasn't a puppy... and they had planned on spaying her, but she had a little 'oops.' I don't think she thought it would be a 12-puppy 'oops.’"
Indeed, after confirming that Mokey and her litter were healthy during the checkup, the owner broached the idea of selling the puppies. Mikols immediately knew she wanted to feature the litter on the clinic's Facebook page since it's important to get puppies into their forever homes quickly (dogs do a lot of bonding and socializing at a young age).
But some people were bothered by the high asking price — which was approximately $950 per dog. Mikols said that’s not unusual for some types of dogs.
"When you start getting into certain breeds, there's a price tag associated with that," she said. "Unfortunately, it's what the market is. And I know some people out there are upset about that, but there are people out that that absolutely want a goldendoodle puppy, and that's what they're going to buy. It's just like any other breed."
Seeing negative comments on such a lighthearted post was "disheartening” to Mikols.
"We weren't trying to promote breeding, or not getting a rescue, or anything like that," she said. "It was just to make people smile and go, 'Oh, that's cute.' It's a sensitive subject, so I know you're always going to get those comments, but that was not our intent."
Mikols also added that having one family raise a dozen puppies (the litter size is "at the top end of the range" for the breed) would be an extremely difficult task since it can be expensive and draining, and said that the owner had done everything right by bringing in the puppies, sheltering them until this stage and trying to find good homes for them.
Despite the comments, she's focusing on the bright side of the post, like the supportive comments and the fact that the owner is on track to adopt out all the puppies soon.
"The owner is taking her time and making sure that the puppies are going to good homes, and making sure that she matches families up with the right dog," Mikols said. "I suspect by the end of the week that she will have gone through that process. They're just too cute. I don't think it will take too long."