Dog Experiencing Phantom Pregnancy Fosters 7 Puppies When Mom Couldn't Cope

A dog that has become a foster mom has delighted the internet after a video of her and the puppies she is caring for has gone viral online.

Shared on TikTok on Friday, the video by Nancy Boerner—who uses the handle boernersbloodhounds—has received over 740,000 views and more than 121,000 likes.

In the video, the woman explains that Bernese mountain dog Lacey had recently been experiencing a false pregnancy.

Sometimes referred to as a phantom pregnancy, The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) reports that pseudopregnancies are common in female dogs because after each season, they produce pregnancy hormones regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. Symptoms include swollen mammary glands and milk production, nesting behavior, low energy, reduced appetite, and even a swollen tummy in extreme cases.

In the video, Boerner said: "Yesterday when our Bloodhound Belle went into labor, Lacey decided she was going into false labor—carrying a ball around, nesting with it and shaking it.

"Anyway, I checked her this morning and she's got milk."

It turned out that Bloodhound Belle gave birth to a litter of 15 puppies, and was having a hard time keeping up with the demands of motherhood.

"So we're slowly transitioning some of them over here to Lacey," Boerner explained. "I just can't believe how well she's taken to them. She is super happy and I'm sure Belle is going to be very relieved as well."

Rachel Rodgers, a clinical animal behaviorist and founder and owner of the U.K.-based dog training company Nose to Trail, told Newsweek: "It take a very special dog to be a foster! It is more common when the dog has puppies themselves of a similar age and is still lactating rather than a dog having a phantom pregnancy. The pups will not smell like her so she may reject them—any attempts to do this need to be done with great care."

The dogs live at Boerner's Bloodhounds in Sisterdale, Texas. Here, Boerner has been training and breeding hounds since 2000. She told Newsweek: "It is such a wonderful story. It's hard to believe the pups will be a week old tomorrow."

In later update videos, Boerner confirmed that all the puppies and both adult dogs were doing well—with eight puppies now being cared for by Belle and seven with Lacey the foster mom.

She explained that Lacey has had two false pregnancies before, and was extremely happy to have the puppies.

TikTok users were overjoyed by the story. One commenter wrote: "Lacey understood the assignment," and another viewer said: "She knew that she was going to be needed."

Another user wrote: "Moms supporting moms! We love to see it!"

Other TikTokers were delighted by how happy Lacey looked in her new role. One viewer said: "Oh my gosh, the way her eyes light up," and another user wrote: "She's so happy you helped her find her babies."

This week another video on TikTok showing how wolfdogs baby their puppies has received over 9 million views online, with viewers mesmerized by the intriguing display.

Lacey foster dog
A picture of Lacey the foster mom with her puppies, left, and a shot of content Lacey after caring for her new babies, right. The heartwarming story of a dog fostering puppies after a phantom pregnancy has melted hearts online. boernersbloodhounds/TikTok

UPDATE 03/30/22, 02:15 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include expert comment from animal behaviorist Rachel Rodgers.