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True Story: One Rescued Dog - Gracie's Story

Updated on August 10, 2014

Gracie - Tshitzu Rescued Off the Street

This is a photo of Gracie, a dog I found on our street, which is just a few blocks from the animal shelter. This is her in the back seat of my car. At this point, I was just calling her 'doggie.'
This is a photo of Gracie, a dog I found on our street, which is just a few blocks from the animal shelter. This is her in the back seat of my car. At this point, I was just calling her 'doggie.'

Little Doggie Found on Street

On June 18th, I was on my way to work, driving down my street, the same as every day. But this day wasn't like every other day. At the end of the street, I saw a little dog huddled and shivering. She was sitting near the front end of a parked car, not quite underneath the car. I slowed down when I saw her, not recognizing her as one of the dogs I frequently see in the neighborhood, and making note of how bad she looked.

I had a lot of thoughts running through my head. "Should I stop?" "If I stop, I'm going to be late for work." "She probably belongs to someone nearby." "She looks like she's shivering." "What do I do? I'm not a dog person." "What if she's lost?"

I rescue cats all of the time, but I've never been a dog-lover. I grew up being afraid of dogs and I guess it's carried over into my adult life. I've mostly gotten over the fear, but still am not as comfortable with dogs as with cats. Even so, I couldn't just leave that dog there without checking out the situation.

I am not a saint, and I didn't do everything perfectly, and some dog-lovers will not agree with some of what I did (or didn't do) but I did my best. So, the story continues.

So I see the dog there, huddled under the car, and I stopped. One neighbor nearby was outside. I asked if it was his dog. He said no. I asked if the dog looked familiar, maybe belonging to a neighbor. He said no. OK, not much help there.

That was when I moved closer to the dog to get a closer look. I will admit, I was a little afraid. I don't know much about dogs. This dog could be friendly, or aggressive. All I knew, is I had been chased by dogs, my heals nipped at by a dog when I was riding my bicycle once. But I didn't know anything about this dog in particular. I put my fear aside and approached her. She backed up a little, but mostly stayed put. It looked like she was having trouble walking.

I started talking to her, and petting her head. I noticed how bad she smelled, and I noticed how much fur was missing. She wagged her tail. "OK, I guess she's friendly," I thought. Still I'm thinking, "What do I do with you? Take you to the shelter? The vet?" She was so dirty. She had a collar on that looked like it was 20 years old, so dirty and tattered.

Gracie - Photo of Missing Fur

Here's another photo I snapped of Gracie while she was in my car. You can see how much of her fur is missing, which I'm sure is part of the reason she was shivering when I found her.
Here's another photo I snapped of Gracie while she was in my car. You can see how much of her fur is missing, which I'm sure is part of the reason she was shivering when I found her.

What To Do With Gracie?

I decided I had to do 'something.' She looked like she needed vet care, so I decided that's what I would do first. I called my work, talked to my manager and asked if it was OK if I was late, and told her what was going on. Luckily, my manager is an animal lover too, and said to take care of the dog.

So, now, I have to get the dog to my vet. I wondered if she would let me pick her up. I also wondered how much my car was going to smell after putting her in it. But I didn't want to leave her, not even just to run home and get towels. So, I gently scooped her up, and she let me, and I put her in my back seat. I looked down at my clothes, and my shirt and pants were covered in oily dandruff, white stuff stuck to my clothes everywhere, and now I smelled too. "Well," I thought, "It'll wash out. What's more important: getting a little dirty, or the life of this sweet animal?" Of course the animal won out.

Gracie - Missing Fur, Old Dirty Collar - Made me So Sad

You can also see in this photo, that Gracie had a collar on when I found her. It was filthy, but it showed that she had belonged to someone.
You can also see in this photo, that Gracie had a collar on when I found her. It was filthy, but it showed that she had belonged to someone.

Taking Doggie to the Vet

I went home, and since the dog was so small, I put her in one of my large cat carriers, then took her to my vet. My vet, Dr. Coghlan is wonderful, and fit me in between his other regular appointments. He's the one that told me that the dog is a Tshitzu. He said she had a really bad yeast infection, which is what caused the hair loss. He said most likely, once the infection clears up, her fur will grow back and she would be a beautiful dog. I asked about her inability to use her hind legs. I mentioned that I live near an animal shelter, and I'm thinking maybe she got dumped, ran across the street and got hit by a car. She had an abrasion on her right hind hip, which led some credence to my hypothesis.

Dr. C. checked out her legs, and said they looked ok. He took x-rays and said mostly she was fine, but there was a little damage to her spine, which could have been there a long time, maybe genetic, or could be new. He suggested giving her a cortisone shot, to reduce swelling in the case that she was indeed hit by a car. He said that if swelling was the issue, within a day or two, I should see marked improvement. He also gave me an anti-biotic for her yeast infection, some cream for her skin, and I bought some food for her, and was on my way back home.

Bringing Gracie Home From The Vet

Once we were back at my house, I informed my husband at that point, that we had a visitor for a little while. I promised him I wouldn't keep her, and that I'd find her a home as soon as possible.

I set up food and water in my gated yard, and a little doggie house, which was actually a large covered litter box which I never used for litter, but instead had made into a bed some time back for an outdoor cat that used to visit me. Luckily, the dog was small enough to use the little house.

This is one of those things some people wouldn't agree with me on. One lady said she never would have left the dog outside.

Healing Gracie

Luckily, Gracie started showing improvement in the use of her hind legs over the next couple of days. She still smelled really bad, so after I had her a couple of days, keeping her in my yard, I gave her a bath. She didn't enjoy it, and I felt bad because it was hose water, and that water wasn't that warm. But she really needed a bath and she smelled so bad I didn't want her in my house. Not to mention, my cats aren't used to dogs and I didn't want to upset my household. Anyway, after the bath, I toweled her off really well and brushed her continuously, until most of her fur was dry. She enjoyed the brushing quite a bit. I think with the yeast infection, her skin was itchy so the brushing was great for her.

Slightly Better After a Bath

Gracie In My Yard - The Reality

I found that this little dog was so friendly and super sweet. And the vet estimated her age at about 3 years old. She looked so much older, being in such bad shape. The only thing I didn't like, was that she pooped on the concrete patio. Why couldn't she poop in the grass? Oh well, no big deal. Easy to clean up. And, she wanted to come into the house SO bad! She would whine and scratch at the door. I put up a baby gate to try to keep her from scratching the door, but she did it anyway, standing up.

I felt really bad for her but still didn't want her in the house. Why did I find her, I wondered, instead of a dog-lover? I guess I'm the best she's going to get for right now.

My husband and I ended up stacking boxes in front of the door so she couldn't reach the door. The problem was, that we couldn't reach the door either. Oh, what we do for little fury animals!

After the bath, I started using the anti-itch cream on her, and that seemed to help quite a bit. I also purchased a skin conditioner with a fragrance in it, to help sooth her skin, and help with the smelliness.

Gotta Have Toys for Doggies!!

When I went back in to work, my manager, who is a huge dog lover, gave me a chew toy for Gracie. As soon as I got home from work that evening, I gave Gracie the toy and she was so happy! She carried the toy around with her, so proud.

Gracie Playing with Dog Toy

Gracie with a Doggie Toy

Even though Gracie looked really bad, her spirits were high. She loved this dog toy and carried it around proudly, wagging her tail.
Even though Gracie looked really bad, her spirits were high. She loved this dog toy and carried it around proudly, wagging her tail.

Craigslist - Great for Ads

Finding Gracie a Home

So now that I took in this dog, what am I supposed to do with her? I promised my husband that we wouldn't have her long. And even though I already loved her, I really didn't want a dog to take care of.

I thought about posting "Dog Found" signs, but really, would I want to return her to someone that took such poor care of her? Should I take her to the shelter? It was probably the right thing to do, but didn't feel right.

I posted "found" ads on Craigslist in the Pets section and I networked her to all the rescues I knew. But after several days, I kept thinking, "What if she was lost, and her owners are looking for her. Maybe her condition is from being outside for too long," though I doubted it.

OC Animal Shelter - Mistake?


Animal Shelter

So with a lot of reservations...I took her to the shelter. They told me that by law, I was supposed to turn in any found animal to them. I told the employee that if she wasn't adopted, I wanted her back. I turned over all her medication, and turned her in. He assured me that she'd find a good home because she was so friendly.

But in just 2 days after dropping her off, I checked in with our contact at the shelter, and was told that they weren't going to put Gracie up for public adoption, because she was in too bad of shape. They would hold her for the time necessary for an owner to claim her, and that was it. She would be euthanized after that.

Needless to say, I was back at the shelter, picking her up through our rescue. Had I not been with a rescue, I would not have been allowed to pick her back up.

And during this time, on June 23rd, another rescue had a lead on a possible adopter for Gracie. I was thrilled!!

Gracie - Back From Shelter

After getting Gracie back, I made arrangements with the potential adopter, Liz, and took Gracie to her home on June 25th, so I could have a chance to talk to Liz, see her home, see how Gracie interacted with her and her other dog, to make sure it was a good fit.

I couldn't have wished for a better home for Gracie!! The adopter already had one Tshitzu, and she wanted another. She had a dream 2 weeks prior that another Tshitzu would come into her life. She was willing to fully vet the dog, bathe her, keep her in the house, and basically pamper her and treat her like a princess.

YAY!! I love happy endings and successful adoptions.

The Happy Ending

On June 27th, I received an update. Liz named the dog Gracie. Liz took Gracie to the vet on the 27th for a whole check up and to have her nails cut and a bath.

On October 30th, 4 months after Gracie had found her new home, I received an email with an update on Gracie, which included a photo. They told me that Gracie was doing great, and still being treated like a princess.

I was overjoyed when I saw the photo of he recovery (see photo below).

Gracie - All Healed

I can't tell you how much this photo and update meant to me. It made my heart swell to see Gracie doing so well.
I can't tell you how much this photo and update meant to me. It made my heart swell to see Gracie doing so well.

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    • Amber Killinger profile image

      Amber Killinger 6 years ago

      I wondered too why the first owner would let this sweet dog go. I'm glad to connect with other animal lovers here!

    • brandasaur profile image

      brandasaur 6 years ago from Planet X

      Oh my. We have pet Shih Tzus. We also adopt kittens being kicked in the street. You have a kind heart, you didn't mind buying and spending just to take care of the baby. :) Nice transformation by the way! This makes me wonder why the first owner let the poor dog wandering around, abandoned. Heartless.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      That was quite a transformation. She looks wonderful. Thanks for caring for one of God's creatures!

    • Amber Killinger profile image

      Amber Killinger 6 years ago

      Thanks Kristeen. All of us animal lovers need to do whatever we can, whenever we can. I try to always keep that in mind.

    • Kristeen profile image

      Christine 6 years ago from Michigan

      God bless you Amber. You did the right thing. Dogs are like children. They aren't able to care for themselves. Poor little Gracie needed you and you didn't let her down. I'm so happy that you found her a forever home where she will be cared for and loved. Be blessed.


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