Football coach finds a furry surprise on the field
Reporter: Rikki Mitchell
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When Cole Hunter left home to coach an early morning football practice, he never imagined what he found find on the field that day.
"I didn't know if it was a prairie dog or what it was," he says. "As we start to nudge it, it starts to kick and crawl and we realize, 'Oh my goodness, this is a little puppy.'"
Hunter says his freshmen football team at Marana High School was pushed to the baseball field for 45 minutes while their field received repairs. It was during that time that he found "Tiger."
"The kids named him Tiger," says Hunter. "It could have been a boy, girl, didn't matter. They wanted him to be the mascot. They named him Tiger from the get-go."
Hunter believes the puppy was abandoned by its mother, and still had its umbilical cord attached, making his condition fragile.
During the rest of the team's practice, Hunter held the tiny puppy in his arms.
"The toughness factor went out the window at that point," he says. "It was gone, and it's forever gone. Basically, puppy in one arm and a whistle in the other arm."
He took Tiger to a veterinarian who said the puppy had a 50-50 shot at life.
Tiger is now more than a month old, but still struggles to walk.
He says he has received numerous calls and emails about the welfare of the puppy.
"I can't start practice without a Tiger update," he says. "We get there and the very first thing is, 'how is the puppy doing?'"
His wife, Angela Hunter, says she had no problem with Cole bringing Tiger home. She has even had to get up during the night to bottle feed the puppy.
"We couldn't leave the poor little thing out there on the grass," she says. "To me, it was a no-brainer. We had to at least give him a shot at life."
The Hunter's say they may have to come up with solutions as Tiger gets bigger to help him walk.
"He doesn't quit, he hasn't given up," says Cole. "He's overcome a lot and he definitely teaches you a lot about how not to judge a book by its cover. All you need to do is give him a shot."
After this story aired, KGUN9 learned from the Hunter family that Tiger died shortly after this interview took place. Angela Hunter tells 9 On Your Side that Tiger had a "loving five weeks of life."