Bachelor parties are well known for drinking, dancing and all manner of debauchery. They’re not, however, often associated with dog rescues. Nevertheless, one group of friends came home from a bachelor weekend with more than just a hangover.
It all began when Mitchel Craddock took a group of friends away to Tennessee to celebrate his upcoming wedding to his fiancée, Kristen. The groom-to-be rented a cabin in the woods with his father, Doug Craddock, and best friends Dave Perkins, Logan Wolf, Alex Manchester, Trevor Jennings, Jake Rowe and Brent Witters.
And the trip got off to a pretty normal start. As the men from Vicksburg, Michigan, were enjoying their first morning in the cabin, they were leisurely taking their time with making breakfast. Just then, however, they received an unexpected visitor.
“We were cooking bacon with the door open. The next thing you know, there’s this dog sitting right at the front door,” Craddock told ABC News in October 2016. What dog could resist the smell of bacon? And with their door wide open, this pooch seemed to be politely requesting a little nibble.
Unfortunately, the dog was not looking her best. “We went outside to pet her and that’s when we noticed she was in rough shape,” Craddock’s groomsman Jennings added to The Dodo. “You could see her ribs, and she was eating any scrap of food we gave her.”
“She wouldn’t come inside but she sat right there,” Craddock said. Craddock also told Michigan Live that the dog was “very friendly but very skittish. I thought maybe she had been booted out of a house before.”
Upon deciding that the animal was in need of some TLC, the groomsmen let her hang around the cabin and gave her food and water. They nicknamed the doggie Annie, after the famous fictional orphan of the same name, and generally kept her company. Then something strange happened.
“After we gave her a bunch of food and water, she started producing milk again,” Craddock said to ABC News. “So we figured if she’s making milk, her pups can’t be that old.” This, coupled with the fact that the pooch kept running off into the forest, made the friends certain that she had a litter somewhere.
Naturally curious, the eight friends decided to investigate. They followed Annie back into the forest – and, sure enough, she had been hiding something. There, in a den dug into the ground, were seven tiny puppies.
“We’re guessing they were maybe around five or six weeks old,” Craddock told Michigan Live. And the whole discovery made them consider Annie in a completely new way. “We were proud of her,” he added. “She gave everything she had to those puppies.”
The men then took the puppies and waited for mom’s approval. “We set each pup individually down in front of her, and she nuzzled their faces, and she checked out the pups, and to the person holding them, she gave the look of ‘It’s OK, I trust you,’” Craddock explained to ABC News. From that point, then, their chilled-out bachelor party had a whole new purpose.
Indeed, instead of putting their time, effort and money into partying, the men focused on the puppies. They even used their beer fund to look after the family of dogs, who were extremely dirty from their time underground and also covered in fleas. But, with the men’s care, the pups soon began to look healthier.
However, the time soon came for the gang to return to Michigan. But, unable to leave their new buddies behind, the men didn’t return home empty handed. As luck would have it, there were eight dogs for eight men. All the pups and, of course, Annie would now find loving homes.
Even better, the dogs now all live within five miles of one another, so they get to see each other all the time. Groom Craddock adopted a puppy he named Brimmie, while his groomsmen each took a pup they named: Knox, Bear, Daisy, Gunner, Finn, and Rosie. Meanwhile, Craddock’s father adopted Annie.
Luckily, Craddock’s wife-to-be Kristen embraced the new addition to their family. In fact, dogs have played a big part in their relationship so far. “I proposed to her with our chocolate Lab, and now it’s our joke that for any of our big life events, we’ll get a dog,” Craddock told ABC News.
Meanwhile, while speaking of his bachelor party-rescued pup, Gunner, to The Huffington Post, Jennings said, “He is a very loyal dog even at such a young age. He stays close to you when he is outside and always excited to see me.” And even nervous Annie is doing well. “She is very happy and well behaved and still likes to play with her puppies when she sees them,” the groomsman revealed.
“It was definitely not what we had expected to happen when we loaded up and headed eight hours to spend a week together,” Jennings added to The Dodo. “We were all glad when we could help Annie and her pups — it also seemed meant to be that we came back to Michigan: eight dogs and eight guys.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the amazing bachelor party caught the attention of local and national news outlets. Then, pretty soon their story went viral. And upon realizing the global interest in their new pets, the men decided to set up a Facebook group so that people could follow the pups’ progress.
The group now has over 600 members from all over the world. “Yay tough guys & puppies… does it get any better? Warm hug from the Netherlands,” wrote one commenter. Another added, “As a dog lover, I was so overjoyed reading this story! You’re all wonderful people with huge hearts. Hopefully your unselfish acts will inspire others. Congratulations on your new family additions!”
As for Craddock and Kirsten, they tied the knot on October 8, 2016. Of course, their wedding will go down as a memorable day in both their lives. And the heart-warming bachelor party-turned-dog-rescue mission itself is definitely a story for the ages.