Animalshelter officials are seeking homes for nine puppies rescued from inside a log that housed them until two snowmobilers came to the rescue. The pups are the offspring of a Labrador retriever who apparently ended up alone in the cold near McGregor Lake west of Kalispell, then gave birth and kept the litter alive for a week to 10 days. The mother emerged when snowmobilers Joey Norris and Austin Lowe arrived on the scene in late December. Norris said he and Lowe, both in their 20s, were enjoying their outing when the dog ran out to engage them in play. It was obvious to the men that she was nursing puppies. "We stopped and asked her where her puppies were," said Norris, astonished when she then led him and Lowe to the burned-out log where she had kept all nine pups warm and fed. "We couldn't even see them, but we could hear them," Norris said. Unable to break the log open to retrieve the pups, the men left them overnight and returned the next day with tools and a plastic tub. They lured the mother away in case she became highly protective. Then the work began. "We had a crow bar so we peeled the log back, piece by piece," Norris said. "Then we put them in the Rubber Maid and drove them to the humane society." The Humane Society of Northwest Montana said Amber, the name chosen by the shelter staff, and her puppies were in good condition. It appeared that Amber lived on animal carcasses while feeding her young. An exhaustive search failed to locate her owner. The dog wore a collar, but had no tag. Her friendly manner and knowledge of commands indicate that she once had a home. "She was somebody's dog," said shelter manager Marje Guest. "But it was obvious she had been out there for some time." Guest described Amber as "a little on the thin side" and the pups as "nice and chubby." The puppies "look like little black labs with a little white on them," she said. Amber resembles a silver Labrador retriever. A home awaits Amber after she is spayed. The five male and four female puppies will become available for adoption on Tuesday. Information from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com.