EDMONTON -- She was a young, homeless single mom trying to raise a family of five, but true to the spirit of the season there was room for one more.
Esperanza had been badly injured when she was hit by a car, but the young shepherd-cross with the thick white coat was still caring for her newborn puppies -- and a kitten -- when she was found on a central Alberta reserve.
Criss Gerwing, who runs a small animal rescue group, discovered the dog earlier this month and couldn't believe it when the canine led her to her blended brood.
"I cried because she was in such bad condition with her leg, but she was obviously nursing her puppies and this kitten," Gerwing told a media outlet.
Gerwing took the entire family to the Edmonton Humane Society, where veterinarians thought they'd have to amputate the mother dog's bad leg.
But local vet Dr. Milton Ness volunteered to do a special surgery that saved Esperanza's hind quarter. He calls her a "special soul."
Shawna Randolph at the humane society couldn't agree more.
"She is such a sweet, sweet dog. She has such a wonderful personality," Randoph said.
"It's amazing when you think about it. You have this dog who is just so giving of herself, caring for these newborn puppies and the kitten, making sure they were cared for even though she was obviously in a lot of pain."