The Accidental Dog

Just before the time that Macho passed away, a dog at the shelter I volunteer for had a terrible accident, and she needed to have a leg amputated. Chula (which means “pretty” in Spanish) is around 12 years old and appears to be a bull terrier mix. She’s lived at the shelter for about a decade. Because she had some arthritis in her front end, even some of the volunteers who knew her suggested that she be put down, that the adjustment would just be too much. Fortunately that’s not the way things work there. Chula had her surgery. We had to try.

I didn’t know Chula. I knew she was a “yellow card” dog (some behavioral issues) and she didn’t care for strangers much. I knew she was considered dog aggressive but I had done her dog aggression evaluation a few weeks before her accident and hadn’t seen anything that concerned me. I couldn’t stand the thought of a 12 year old tripod being returned to life in a kennel, so I offered to give her a try with my crew, and if it worked out I would adopt her. Little did I know exactly HOW well that would work out. I waited a few weeks for the staples from her surgery to come out, but I didn’t visit her during her recovery. After all, she didn’t know me, and I didn’t want to aggravate or excite her in a time when she needed to rest to heal.

When the staples were removed I went down to pick her up. When I popped the door to her recovery room open, I was greeted with excitement and kisses, and she walked with me out to the lobby.

It’s like she knew what I was there for. She never took her eye off me in the lobby and stayed right beside me at all times – the dog who didn’t like strangers. When we stepped out the front door to go to the car, I reached down and took her leash off. She stayed right beside me as we walked to the car, hopped into the car when I opened the door for her, and settled down on the passenger seat.

When we got home she walked right in and met the crew without incident. Everyone checked her out, she checked everyone out, and she played with some of them. She and Baron have a special bond and they love to wrestle – Baron has very limited use of his back legs, so he quickly falls over and lays on his back on the floor and bats at her with his front paws while she jumps on him.

She’s been wonderful. Incredible. The only issue we’ve had to work through is that at first she got very nervous when I left, but she’s now totally comfortable here. She’s remembered her housetraining without prompting and is one of the most affectionate and loving dogs I’ve ever had, and has been from the moment I first put that leash on her – she still doesn’t like strangers, but she loves me and I can do anything I need to. She loves to snuggle and get her belly rubbed. She’s been very responsive to training and has earned herself many nicknames… Big League Chu. Chula Hoop. Chucifer. Chuella de Ville. Chu Toy.

The missing leg? Doesn’t bother her. I wondered what she’d be able to do, and it turns out… well, pretty much anything except descending a steep and narrow staircase. So far, that’s just about it. She had to work up to a full-length walk, but she keeps up with the others quite well now. Her arthritis is being treated with supplements and an NSAID, and other than that she’s in quite good shape for her age. Her accident was ironically also her lucky break. It got her out.

Dogs still surprise me. I routinely see dogs who have been in a shelter a decade or more step into a home and become perfect pets, and not always the ones I would have predicted. She knew, when I opened that door, that she was coming home. I don’t know how, but she knew. There are others there who have been there as long or longer who are just as deserving. Can you take one home?

Welcome home, Chula.

This entry was posted in Dogs, Pets Alive Westchester, Shelter Stuff. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Trudy


  • amy harmon

    is that my Ollie bear in the last picture?

    btw…I have a hard time thinking of a man with a bigger heart than yours John. You inspire me.

    • Linda

      What she said.

    • jbsibley

      That’s Baron she’s cuddling with in the picture… she and Ollie co-exist but they’re not close. They can sleep in the bed together, though!

  • Beautiful story, John. Thank you for sharing and for doing the work you do, and much love to Chula!

  • Wide world of disabled wrestling, heh. They need spandex.

  • maria marrin

    Such a heart-warming story! I have always known that animals have a sixth sense and most times know better than we do. 🙂

  • Lisa Solomon

    We adopted Jaco, a chocolate lab, from Pets Alive Westchester (NY) in October 2010. He was 14 years old and had been at the shelter for 7 years. He got along just fine with our other two dogs – a black lab and a beagle – and was just a fantastic dog.

    Although Jaco passed away from cancer in February 2011, we were able to give him a loving home for five months.

  • Janet


  • I think it is amazing what a good home can do for the animals,it just goes to show that LOVE can cure all when it comes to them..

  • Lori Faeth

    Truly an amazing story John. You are a wonderful person with a huge heart to take in Chula and the others and give them a chance. With all the love, attention and support you give them, how could they not thrive? Thanks for all you do John!

  • ashley

    My husband and I started fostering ny cats in november. We have saved 6 lives and we currently have one in our home named Spock. Some of the cats we have taken didn’t have the best behavior rating but we took them anyway. Every one of them have been terrific great cats. They have been so sweet and loving and their new parents love them all. So behavior rating while in a shelter doesn’t mean much to us lol. I m so glad chula wiggled her way into ur heart