VICKSBURG, Mich. — Mitchel Craddock and his buddies were having a good time during his bachelor party getaway. They traveled down to Tennessee, rented a cabin in the woods and spent their days four-wheeling. However, everything changed one morning when they were cooking bacon and a guest showed up at their door.
“We ended up burning the bacon a little bit,” said Craddock during an interview at his home. “We filled the cabin with smoke. So we opened the door. The next thing you know there’s a dog sitting on our front step.”
A brown Labrador-mix sat there smelling the food, Craddock said. But she looked dehydrated. So they gave her something to eat and named her Annie, after Orphan Annie, because she was alone.
“After we got her re-hydrated and got some food in herself, she started to make some milk again,” said Craddock. “So we’re thinking she’s gotta have pups recently.”
And she did. Craddock said they kept Annie around for a few days but she was always protective of one area in the woods. They began to “connect the dots” and figured out there was something more there than just trees and dirt.
“We started to see pizza boxes and water bottles and stuff like that,” said Craddock’s friend Trevor Jennings. “That’s when we ended up seeing the hole. I think it was one of the females [that] kind of stuck her head out first.”
To their shock, Craddock said, they found seven puppies inside a giant hole. One of the guys went in waist-deep and started pulling them out, one by one.
“You can kinda see the sigh of relief when we showed up, when we actually started digging pups out,” said Craddock’s dad Doug. “I told the guys ‘Be careful, she might not be cool with it.’ And she was just tickled pink.”
The guys were too Craddock said. They couldn’t believe the puppies were born underground. They immediately asked a few people about the dogs. But no one claimed them.
“We did our homework and looked around to make sure that she didn’t belong somewhere,” said Craddock. “I’m sure she had a home at some point but I think she was booted out”
Craddock and his friends were determined to make sure that never happened again. So they picked up the dogs and brought them back to the cabin, cleaning them and giving them food to eat. They gained strength and turned into “rambunctious” little pups, he said. Days later, when the party was over, Craddock and his friends took them to their homes in Michigan. The pups' mom, Annie now lives his grandparents.
“It is definitely a bachelor party to remember,” said Craddock. “It’s just something you don’t ever hear of, I mean how many guys go down to go four-wheeling, eight guys go down and they bring eight dogs back.”
Since they returned home, Craddock's gotten married and people across the country have fallen in love with their story. Several local and national TV stations have spoken to them, Nutrena's donated dog food to the guys, and the Facebook page they created for the puppies titled “Tennessee Mutt Puppies” has gotten hits from all over the world, including Britain and China.
“Everyone loves puppies,” said Craddock. “I think in this point and time right now, there’s so much going on politically and stuff like that, that people just need a feel-good story.”
Craddock said it's one he'll never forget.