Five little girls and a boy named Tommy nuzzle clumsily for warmth in the child-size plastic pool Kim Frock has generously moved into her dining room.
The whelps' mother is a sweet-natured Jack Russell-dachshund mix named Molly, who, just days earlier, had been wandering alone in an Anne Arundel County playground. Thanks to the intervention of a rescue group, Molly's six puppies opened their eyes to the world last week in the comfort of Frock's York City home.
Molly and her pups are not the first four-legged creatures to find Frock just in time. They surely won't be the last.
During the past decade, Frock, 41, has fostered dozens of dogs. She finds them through social-media sites and rescue groups all over the region. Without her, most of Frock's foster dogs would have been euthanized.
She's taken in litters of kittens - just to offer a bit of relief to overwhelmed shelter workers in the midst of kitten season.
It's not unusual for Frock to finish a day at work, drive to West Virginia, rescue a dog from an overcrowded shelter and care for that animal until someone else agrees to provide a forever home.
And, then, she does it again.
"Letting them go is getting harder as I get older," she said.
Frock's home on East Prospect Street plays host to a constantly revolving cast of characters - dogs she's fostering, dogs she's babysitting, dogs she's found wandering the streets of her neighborhood without identification.
But always by her side is Frock's 11-year-old son David, a cat named Stink and a 10-year-old dog named Riley, who was Frock's fourth foster dog, the only one she couldn't let go.
To care for her fosters, she gets financial help from rescue groups like Happy Hounds Homeward Bound, the Hanover-based group that plucked Molly from a shelter and got her to Frock.
"We wanted to get her out as soon as possible," said Kelly Blizzard-Powers, the rescue group's founder.
Molly and her puppies will stay with Frock for at least eight weeks.
Then, Frock will start looking for permanent homes. She'll interview applicants and visit their homes before making a final decision.
Thanks to Facebook, she stays in touch with many of her former foster animals.
"It's like an extended family," she said.
Before Molly and her puppies, Frock cared for a 14-year-old dog she named Garcia, who came to York with a bacterial skin infection and almost no hair because he'd been abandoned in a Baltimore backyard. Garcia, whose gray hair returned to betray his old age, is now living with a woman who has a soft side for senior dogs.
Before Garcia, there were Minnie and Bruiser and Bella and Scruffy and Boogy and so many more.
Frock is not just a dog lover who's found her niche fostering needy animals.
At 4 years old, she went to live in a foster home in rural Carroll County. Frock doesn't say much about that experience - except that it's where she discovered the friendship of animals.
"I was one of those little kids that got made fun of," she said. "I didn't have friends. I had animals."
When she was 9 years old, Frock was adopted into another Carroll County family. Her love for animals only grew.
After a decade of supporting other rescue groups, Frock said she'd like to start one of her own. She wants to include an education component, perhaps even sharing her knowledge with school kids and York County Prison inmates.
"It's my way of giving back," she said. "You have to stay focused on the main task. The main task is to save dogs."
Frock works with several rescue groups. The newest is a Hanover-based group called Happy Hounds Homeward Bound. The group is looking for volunteers, donors and foster homes. For information about Happy Hounds Homeward Bound, visit www.hhbrescue.org or email the group's president, Kelly Blizzard-Powers, at email@example.com.
- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.