- Associated Press - Saturday, April 5, 2014

MANHATTAN, Mont. (AP) - They’re known affectionately as the dumpster puppies.

Their story began as a sad one - 10 puppies, just days old, thrown away last winter and left to die in a dumpster.

“They were dirty and cold when they were found,” remembers Diana Stafford, who runs Tiny Tails K-9 Rescue in Manhattan.

Stafford remembers getting the call about the 10 large breed pups only 8 to 10 days old. Some still hadn’t opened their eyes yet.

Volunteers at RezQ Dogs, an organization in north-central Montana that specializes in rescuing unwanted and abandoned dogs from the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy reservations, contacted Stafford.

The puppies were taken to Helena, where Tiny Tails volunteers were waiting to feed them. They then went to foster homes in Manhattan and Whitehall. When they were ready, permanent homes were carefully chosen by Stafford.

All 10 had adoptive homes waiting for them when they were old enough.

On March 29, a little over a year after they were found in a dumpster along the Hi-Line, the puppies were reunited. Eight of the 10 dumpster pups and their families gathered in a Manhattan park to celebrate the lives of the dogs that went from unwanted offspring to cherished family pets.

Missy and Chris Grinnell adopted the puppy they call Spirit.

The only black-colored puppy in the litter, Spirit stuck out to the Grinnells.

“I love her story. I love that we get to be a part of her story now. These puppies were someone else’s trash and they’re treasure to us,” Missy Grinnell said.

Debbie Harbour, who lives in Manhattan, helped feed the puppies when they were first rescued. She fell in love with a pup she named Gracie.

While at church, the word “grace” kept sticking with her when she’d hear it. She knew that was the name for her pup.

“She was saved by the grace of God and a lot of wonderful people,” Harbour said.

“I think they kept each other alive. They were just all huddled together in a box,” Harbour said of the pups.

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