Member Story: Abandoned Pup Chooses Love

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 1:30pm

In July 2009, a special little dog with big brown eyes was found abandoned in a box outside Angels for Animals Animal Center in Canfield, Ohio, a participant in the 2011 ASPCA $100K Challenge. She was alone and in desperate need of a loving home. Luckily, Elizabeth Stark’s family decided to adopt the homeless pup and give her a fresh start.

They chose to call her Chooey, a name they picked to commemorate this sweet dog’s endearing snaggletooth. Elizabeth’s family also thought Chooey’s shiny blonde coat gave her a stylish look, so they adapted the spelling of her name to match the famed shoe designer, Jimmy Choo. One of Chooey’s favorite past times is to chew on her pet parents’ shoes, so the name is very fitting.

It didn’t take long before the Starks were head over heels for their furry new addition.

“How could anyone not enjoy the company of such a sweet little companion?” Elizabeth says. “Chooey is unlike any other dog I have ever encountered. Sometimes I’m not even sure if she is really a dog. She stretches like a cat, howls like a wolf, dances like a monkey, and smiles like a toddler.”

But whatever animal personality Chooey chooses, she is an energetic and steadfast companion.

“Sometimes the best things really do come in small packages—and they're covered with fur and filled with love,” Elizabeth says.

Did you adopt a homeless pet? Tell us about your furry friend in the comments.

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Brittany Rave

My dog Molly Mae is almost five! She was three months when we brought her home. She was adopted once before us and their dog was a big pit and didn't like her one bit. So they brought her back to the shelter. My family and I were searching for a dog. We went all over the state to find the perfect dog. We were checking out Mollys brother at the time and took him into a little room. My sister (who the dog was for) cried because spitfire was just to scary for her. (He was adorable!) I of course loved every dog that came in. But Molly was the only one that was calm and sweet. She was the runt. We went home that night empty handed but the next day we drove there right when it opened! We signed the papers and took her home. We has other animals. Molly got along great with our cat Dylan, Who was 17 years old. The first day was long and wonderful. I remember my mother and father sitting us down and telling us the rules with the dog. (I broke a few in the first day)I let her out of her kennel that night because she was whimpering and put her beside me on the couch. She snuggled right up and fell asleep. Since that day she's been by my side. Everyday. She didnt take to my sister like my parents had hoped. But me. I mean, She still protects Gabby but not as much as me. There have been a few health scares since we got her. She's been hit by the same car 3 times. Caught in a burning building alone. But she's not dead or dying. I feel that she wont die anytime soon because our need for each other is so strong. I need her by my side like I need air. We both get anxious when we don't see each other for awhile. The longest i've been away from her is five days. And that was living hell.

Robin Pasholk

Brothers Peter and Christopher were given to me as an early Christmas gift several years ago. The only time they've ever been apart was when they went in for The Operation and had to be in separate carriers--the vet says they complained about the separation the whole time, except when they were sedated! I call them my therapy cats because they're a great remedy for clinical depression and also help keep my borderline-high blood pressure on the right side of the border. I can't imagine abandoning them for anything!

Janet Casmaer

Having had 2 English Setters in the past, my husband and I are in love with the breed. But we also have a passion for adoption, as we have 2 rescued cats and a rescued mutt named Jack. I was surfing the web one day, thinking that Jack needed a companion, when I saw a local rescue had an English Setter! I immediately called the shelter and was told that "Babe" would be at our local Petsmart on Saturday. We were very excited and hopeful everything would work out.

Saturday my husband, our dog Jack, and I went to meet Babe. When we got to Petsmart, the shelter people had several dogs and cats in crates in the back of the store. We looked for a setter, but didn't see one. Then I noticed the tag on one of the crates said "Babe". We couldn't believe it - she looked NOTHING like a setter. She was terribly skinny anda dirty white color except for black ears. Her underside was yellow from lying in her own urine. She had a long pointy nose and the saddest eyes I'd ever seen.

The girl from the shelter assured us that yes, Babe was determined to be a pure bred. They had rescued her from a kill shelter. Their vet guessed she was somewhere between 8-10 years old. Did we want a senior dog? We didn't even hesitate - yes, we wanted her. She met Jack and they were fine together, so we loaded her in the car and took her home, re-naming her Ellie.

After an adjustment period (where she "hid" in the darkness of our bathroom, she tentatively started feeling at home. After a few months on a good diet her black spots popped out all over! She gained 15 lbs. and at last looked like an English Setter.

Ellie is the sweetest dog we've ever had. We're so glad fate brought us together that day. We have now had her for 3 years and she is playful as a puppy. We are very happy that her last years, however many that may be, will be spent being loved.

Pierre Marcotte

In december 2008 I lost my companion 0f 13 years a matese named Muffin by my mother, shortly after I heard of a puppy that had been left at a veterinarian, when I ask about it they told me it was a male westie of 9 months. I managed to received him 3 days before christmas, we've been friends since then and I've succeeded in training him to walk with and without a leash, wich impress other westies owner. He is a real treat to everyone he meets as he is extremely sociable and know how to endear himself to peoples.


Niko,one of our 4 Shih Tzus passed away at 14 after struggling with congestive heart failure. My husband and I always had 4 of these little guys, so 2 months after (time to grieve and not appear as if we were trying to "replace him"), we decided to adopt in his honor. Although we had aquired Niko and Tasha (who is 16 now) from a breeder, our other 2 were rescues stemming from various circumstances. I began to Google rescue groups and look at their available pets when I saw a picture of Bailey. I had to have him. He had this twisted little mouth and confused look on his face,tilted head and these hugh googly eyes. A face only a mom could love....and I did. We applied and had a "sleep-over" with Bailey, something the Rescue group does to make sure a pet is a good fit for your home and other pets. He walked into our house as if to say " Hi, I'm home" And he was! It turns out that the twisted mouth was missing teeth, and his tongue hangs out from the spaces...a result of being kept in a cage for the first 2 years of his life with another dog. We and our vet speculate that he was biting on the cage in frustration to get out, something common in dogs that are caged all the time, and dislocated his jaw, pulled out teeth or damaged them so they had to be removed, and judging from the hugh scar and notch in it, tore his tongue during one of these frustrated moments. The former owners then took him to the shelter and said they could not take care of him any more.I said" they weren't taking care of him in the first place" Bailey was an 11th hr dog, he was on the Euth list for the next morning when he was pulled by the rescue organization, at only 2 yrs old. Just the thought of them killing this sweet, young, healthy dog makes me physically sick to my stomach. But Bailey had a higher purpose in his young life. Not only do we just adore him, he has become the best bud to our youngest who, due to the ages of the other 2, had no playmate. And I have become an advocate for animal rescue,advocacy,worldwide animal causes and volunteer for shelters and rescue groups. He has made me a better person and I have discovered my true purpose in life. AND....Do not ever think that your adoptive animal does not know what you have done for him, Bailey is like velcro with me. And I wouldn't have it any other way cause we rescued each other!


A little over three years ago, we decided to adopt a dog for my son as his beloved pit bull had been stolen a year before right from our backyard. It was tragic at the time, but the story has a good outcome. We looked at our local shelter's website and found a small beagle mix who was around a year old and looked adorable. As a surprise, we didn't tell our 9 and 11 year old children where we were going. One of my daughter's friends happened to be along, as well.

When we arrived at the SPCA, our kids thought we were going to volunteer, but nearly exploded when we told them we were there to adopt. When they brought this little powder keg of a dog into the visiting room, she jumped from lap to lap without hitting the floor for at least three times around. She chased a ball and was extremely hyper. My husband gave me "that look" indicating that he wasn't sure of such an energetic dog. We noticed that she had a crooked back leg and seemed to be very anxious. We learned that she had been at the shelter for over 5 months and we guessed the fact she hadn't been adopted was because she was so hyper. With the children's overwhelming approval, we adopted her on the spot.

Upon arriving home, she settled in right away and got along well with our laid-back cat, while our big black boy, Kiko, wanted to make it clear to the interloper that he was in charge (that never changed!). My 9 year old daughter and her friend slept on the living room floor that night and "Trixie" slept under the covers between them. She was in heaven. When my daughter's friend went home the next day, Trixie wandered the house looking and whining for her. Three years later, she still explodes with kisses and whimpers whenever she sees her! Thank goodness she and my daughter are life-long friends.

As time passed, we deduced that she was abused, because we can't raise our voices around her (even to reach from one floor to the other) without her looking nervous or cowering. The worst form of discipline we can use is the rare stern look and a quiet "Trixie" before she just melts on the floor. Our vet told us that her crooked leg was from an unset break when she was a puppy and she was obviously abused. We are so happy we picked her.

About a year after we adopted her, her muzzle began to grey, so we think she is much older than they indicated. We don't care, we love her and hope she lives a long, long time. A year ago, we adopted another pit bull and Trixie "raised" her and keeps that rambunctious pup in line. It really is true, the best dogs come from the shelter.


one early evening in june 2011, i was getting off the train in my village just outside of new york city. as the people dispersed, i saw a flash of fur flying down the skinny yellow caution line at the very edge of the railroad platform. as it came closer, i could see that it was a puppy, and she continued to race back and forth along that very treacherous edge. i tried to stop her, and was unsuccessful the first two times- she was terrified, and simply ran right around me. the third time, i managed to stop her, and scoop her up in my arms. i guessed that she was a jack russell...she was trembling, and eager to jump right back down and continue her insane race at the train's edge. i took her to my car, where i offered her my leftover pumpernickel bagel from that morning, and she ate the whole thing. we became new friends. long story short, she became our pet, and it is now about a year and a half later. still a wild little runner, lily brightened up our home, and became a wonderful companion to our older schnauzer, ryan. the timing couldn't have been better, because a week after lily "found us", our older dog, an almost 18 year old schnauzer named candi died. lily was meant for our home.


Interesting! I hope that everyone's weekend is great and safe! Good luck with Chooey!

Ellen Templeton

I lost my beloved pug, Buddy, on December 29, 2012. It was a heartbreaking unexpected. He was only 7 years old and very healthy. He had a blockage caused by bladder stones and even though he was hospitalized at the time, he did not survive. I wasn't sure if the holiday schedule had anything to do with it, but I was devastated. I wished that I had known how seriously ill he was. I truly thought it was a bladder infection. So did my vet. I was wrecked with sorrow...not eating or so much pain from the loss of my boy.
I began to look for another pug that might need me as much as I needed him. Days went by and I knew that when the "one" was found, I would know. Well, it was true. The minute I saw Toby's (then Turbo) picture, I said, "Oh, he is!" I had no idea on Friday night when I faxed my application, I would be receiving a call from the Humane Society on Saturday morning. The precious volunteer said that I was immediately approved and I could come and get my new little boy.
I hesitated for a moment, thinking it was just too soon. But then I thought, why would I wait for another day, or another week or longer when Toby obviously needed someone to save him. You see, the lady had explained to me that Toby (Turbo) was an owner surrender. His person was going overseas on mission to Africa and they had a difficult parting. The owner was so saddened to leave his pal, but couldn't take him. Toby had evidently been overlooked several times due to the fact that he only had one eye. So we made the trip to see him. The moment I saw his sweet face, he completely stole my broken heart! I knew he was mine!
Well, I adopted sweet little Toby on January 12, 2013. For some reason, I've always been drawn to the ones with special needs and issues, so this made no difference to me. He was very healthy and had lost his eye as a puppy. I think it gives him personality!
So, this adoption story has two survivors...Toby and myself. He pulled me from that dark place of mourning and I eased the loss of his gentle master. We are here for each other and the healing has begun. It is like they say, I only hope I can live up to what he thinks of me. He, for sure, already has surpassed all expectation!

Barbara Fiorica

My husband and I rescued Buddy from the Mendocino SPCA in 1996. We were staying in Elk, California, away for a romantic weekend, and we decided to take the short drive north to Mendocino to check out the town. Adopting a dog was the last thing on our minds. We were in an art gallery looking around, and of course, my husband was done in about 10 minutes. He decided to check out the town while I continued to peruse the artwork. When I was done, I found him leaning up against a fence, under the sign 'Mendocino SPCA'. He had already made his way around, but he wanted me to check it out. I looked at all the cute puppies, but that wasn't what I was looking for. There, all by himself in the middle of a large puppy pen was this striking dog. He had white thick fur with muted spots, two black ears and a black eye. We couldn't imagine what mix of breeds he was, but he had the beautiful eyes of a border collie. And as we approached, he gave us the biggest smile I ever saw. In fact, I'd never seen a dog smile before that. It was then that my husband told me that this was the dog he singled out as well. We asked the attendant about him. She said his name was Buddy, and that the county vet had found him in the middle of the road one day and brought him home. He neutered him and gave him all his shots, planning to keep him, but his wife didn't want a dog (her loss!). So back he went to the shelter. The attendant asked if we wanted to take him for a walk. We did, and that was all she wrote! The B&B we were staying at let us keep him with us (the owners had two dogs of their own, and were sympathetic). Packing up to leave, we folded the back seat down so that Buddy would have all kinds of room. That's when we found out that he liked dirty laundry. It had gotten very quiet in the back of the car, and when I turned around, there he was, smiling, with some piece of clothing hanging out of his mouth. We knew we had made the right choice. Buddy was with us for 16 happy years. He outlived every other dog we had rescued to keep him company. They really broke the mold when he was made. He wasn't the first animal we rescued, and he hasn't been our last. And even though each cat and dog we rescue are wonderful unto themselves, Buddy will always have a special place in our hearts.