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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Carole A Pappas

Over the years, I have adopted many dogs and cats from my local Humane Society or through my vet but the latest one adopted me. November, 2012 must have been Adopt a Human Month. I had noticed a large, white cat wandering around my neighborhood. He did not look familiar and for the first few days would not come to me. One day, I pulled in and stopped my car to collect my mail. Once again, I saw the white cat but this time, I could see that he was meowing at me. Once I called to him, he came right over, rubbed against my legs, and purred loudly. He then made a beeline for the garage where I found him waiting at the back door. Despite my many attempts to eject him, he made it very clear that I was to open the door. The minute the door was opened, he walked right in and immediately looked at home. I left him in the utility room while I let my three dogs out into the backyard. I then let him into the family room and he made himself right at home. He checked out the other cats and when I showed him the litter pans, he very neatly used one of them and then proceeded to help himself to almost a full bowl of dry food. This occurred over two months ago and Jack the Cat is now a fully integrated member of the family. He is a very large and handsome boy with white hair and big green eyes. He is also one of the laziest, most laid back animals I have ever met and only moves fast when food is involved. I have no idea where he came from, if he was lost or abandoned, but he was not micro-chipped and I have never seen any fliers or ads for a missing cat matching his description. He is about two years old and has been neutered. Clearly, he was an indoor cat and since he has been with me, the closest he has come to the out of doors, other than trips to the vet, is when he lays by my desk and gazes out the window. I think it was fortuitous that we found each other and, after all, what is one more cat when I already have five of them plus the three dogs? Jack has found his forever home with me.


Before my husband and I got married I begged him for a puppy. He told me to start lookin around. I, of course, immediately went to shelter websites and began callin all local rescue centers. I knew I wanted to give an "unwanted" puppy (all dogs are "puppies" to me, no matter their age) a forever home. I have always been good at training dogs so I knew that I would be well suited to give a traumatized animal a second chance.
A few days after my birthday at the end of September in 2010, my best friend, Jessie Norton of Memphis, called me with concerns. She had a friend that had been attempting to sell the final two puppies of a recent litter. Jessie knew I was lookin for a puppy in need and when she was told the story of these two poor puppies, she knew that she had a to bring us together.
Two solid white, six month old, male pit bull puppies had been shut up in a garage belonging to a friend of the owner. They had never seen grass before and were said to be "very skinny" just like their mother. The owner was on the verge of turning them over to a local shelter. She claimed she "just couldn't deal with two more dogs right now". After playing phone tag for about a week, a meeting was set up.
My husband and I went to my friend Jessie's home. The two puppies owner met us there with the dogs. It had been settled before hand that she would not be charging us for the puppies. She had already sold the litter mates for a rather large profit but since she had already decided to give them to a shelter, she agreed to give them to us.
When we walked in the house, the tension in the air was thick enough to cut with a knife. Jessie and her boyfriend, Nick, were both extremely upset. When I saw the "skinny" puppies I instantly understood. My husband and I were given two of the most abused puppies I have ever seen. They had not been victim to physical beatings, but the abuse was very apparent. The "owner" left soon after we arrived and I assume she realized she was standing in a room with 4 extremely angry animal lovers.
Every rib stuck out half and inch. You could see the knots in their tails. They were six months old and had hit several growth spurts so they had long legs that could barely hold up their malnourished bodies. Their heads were so large in comparison to the rest of them that they looked like a bobble head toy and actually moved like one. They were very uncoordinated and had very poor balance. Their gums very so pale they were almost white and swollen around almost every tooth. They had worms that I discovered when I was examining their tails and happened to look at their rectums and actually saw worms crawling out. After that I was having difficulty containing my horror, grief, and anger for these two loving puppies, because even in such an inexcusable condition all they wanted to do was climb in my lab and give me kisses.
Jessie and Nick helped me get both of them fed before we embarked on the hour and half long car ride to their new home in Northeast Mississippi. When I thanked them for supplying them with much need nutrition, I was informed of the most disturbing fact concerning this entire ordeal. With these poor malnourished puppies literally starving to death in her garage, when she gave them to us she included a 100 pound bad of dry Puppy Chow and 2 cases of extra large cans of wet dog food, which was 24 cans approximately 16 oz each. When we put the food in front of them the fear in them was obvious. I don't know what all those two were forced to endure, and I am honestly glad that I never found out. They gorged themselves on the small amounts of food I gave them. I knew they were likely to eat very quickly and make themselves sick in the process, so we have them a quarter of a cup every 20-30 minutes. With huge swollen bellies and new loving parents and god-parents (Jessie and Nick) we loaded up to very sleepy and much happier puppies to bring home for good.
They both sleep the first night with hardly a single move or noise. The next morning I fixed their breakfast, which included their canned and dry food in which I added some extra fatty things for a treat and to help fatten them up a bit. I noticed that Killer didn't eat much of his but assumed his tummy might not be feeling 100% after such a poor diet for so long. I took them to play outside, which was a much bigger ordeal then I would have imagined. Neither had ever seen so much as a single blade of grass so our 80 acre farm was overwhelming to them. A few hours later they were running through the fields, splashing in mud puddles, and barking at the two horses we own. Literally having the time of their young lives.
Then they both took a turn for the worse. I hoped it was just the medication, radically different diet, or the drastic change in their living environment, but Killer continued to eat and drink very little that first day. I warmed milk, offered pedia-lite and powerade, tried to bribe him to eat with tuna, freshly prepared deer meat, anything and everything I had in my kitchen that I hoped would help. By the end of the third day, Killer couldn't hold his head up and wouldn't even drink the fluids I was pouring into his mouth with a syringe. He refused to eat anything at all. Kilo continued to eat small amounts of the food I gave him, never eating all of it, and drank in a similar fashion. I think he was making sure Killer had something to eat and drink. The vet my family uses was very helpful, even though it was the weekend. We had an appointment for the next morning. During phone conversations, the doctor told me that I was doing everything possible with the exception of an IV. He was no afraid of disease or illness but of permanent damage that had been done from the malnutrition.
I had been keeping them separated from fear of a contagious illness but accepted that night that if one had a disease, the probability was almost certain they both did. I didn't see the point of keeping them apart if it was their last night. They were very dependent on each other due to the was they lived for their first 6 months. When Killer finally fell to sleep I but him in the bed next to Kilo around 10 o'clock that night. At midnight I noticed Kilo moving around a whimpering. I knew immediately that we had lost Killer, but then a miracle happened. I honestly assumed that with Killer being gone, that Kilo would not be long behind him due in part to the grief of losing his brother. What happened could not have shocked my husband and I more.
When my husband took Killer to his final resting place, I gave Kilo a bath and a fresh bowl of food and water. He instantly devoured every bite of the food and drop of the water I set out for him. He came to life with a vengeance. He was running around the house and playing like I had never seen him do. We took him to the vet the next morning as scheduled and he was given clean bill of health. Killer was to far gone when we got him. The doctor said there was just nothing that would have saved him by then. He told me that my vigilance is what spared Kilo from the same fate.
Today Kilo is a very loving 80 lb. 2 year 9 month. He is the smartest dog I have ever owned. I have him trained to specific key words as well as hand signals. He has no linger effects from his mistreatment during his first few months. He loves people and other dogs, especially children and babies. He is very protective, primarily of me, but does watch out for anybody that I consider a friend. He can sense my feelings and emotions concerning people and instantly loves my friends even if I haven't seen them in years.
I love that dog with all my heart and every time I think about the life he had before Jessie found him and brought us together, I consider violence. It absolutely breaks my heart just thinking about kind of animal abuse. Everyday I do what I can to end any abuse that I am aware of. It amazes me how forgiving animals are when it comes to their own mistreatment. Kilo has no lasting effects from his abuse, neither emotional or physical.

Angie Unruh

I certainly appreciate the effort that the new owner of Killer and Kilo made, attempting to turn around the abuse and suffering of the two dogs, but, the first thing to do was to call the law and have the perpetrators of such horrible maltreatment apprehended immediately, so that they would never again be allowed to have pets, and in addition, to be punished for the agony they caused these two animals, and probably, to those they had previously sold! The only way we can hope to stop such treatment inflicted on our dear animals is to bring the abusers to justice.


When one of my relatives passed away not too long ago, I ended up with her dog. I figured that I would find a new home for the dog, but one night I was up on the living room couch with a worried mind, crying and very depressed, and this dog just came right up and gave me a kiss and sat with me for hours. I decided that this little guy was a true friend to me and resolved to make his life as joyful and he made mine. Not only did I end up keeping this dog, but I adopted another dog from the pound (whose family had left him after HIS owner died). I'm so blessed to have my two poochies. We go hiking every weekend and when we're together on a walk or even just watching the world go by from the front yard, I've learned to just enjoy the sun, the air, and just elemental things from them.
It's like the Doobie Brother's song, "without love, where would you be now?"


Cricket found us this summer. June 26th the be exact. She was a mess of mats and knotted fur. We couldn't even tell her breed she was in such bad shape. She'd had pups recently and was still lactating. We got her into the vet (and groomer) the very next day. She is what they call a tea cup Shi Tzu ( pure bred the vet thinks) she was just at 5 and half pounds when she found us. She was under a year. The vet is sure she was being used as a breeder dog and when she served her purpose she was let out. We never found her pups ( based on the condition she was let go in we weren't returning her!) She has become my girl. She's always right by my side! She goes everywhere she's allowed, she dances with me when I come home when she can't. Her best friend is her brother cat Panther( another rescue). She was an unexpected,welcome addition to our family!


Well my latest addition is Apollo.. a brindle boxer that is just so amazing. I love him so much. We still do not understand why he led the life he did but we know it was a hard one. He is our dancing fool.

Baileys momma

how dare you take your eyes off that little dog for even a second?!. I have just gotten a dog about "Chooeys" size and granted my dog is only a pup I have eyes on her like a Hawk!. I worship the ground my pup walks on I spoil her like theres no end. yes I carry on with my life but when I need to go away for a weekend. I make damn well sure my puppy is in safe hands with my roommate. but constantly make sure my puppy is safe. NOW as far as you letting your dog get hit by a car 3 times. that's not love that's just plain ignorance!. your basically running on borrowed time with chooey. so best watch chooey before that borrowed time becomes fatal and chooey will sadly no longer be with you because of your ignorance.


My dog Frankie was brought up from the south and adopted by a single mom and her teenage son. The gave him back shortly after because he barks to much. I found his pic online and saw he was fostered an hour away so I made an appointment to meet. Love at first sight and what a ball of energy. I have had him 2 1/2 years and I would never look back he is the best. Spends his weekends at his "Nana & Papa's" so Dad can work and brings joy to all of us!!!
Oh yea the barking isnt even an issue he barks very very rarely

Jean Gendron

We adopted Lola from the SPCA back in June. At 79 pounds she was small for a 4 year old Great Pyrenees. She QUICKLY found "her spot" on the couch and went on to blossom to 105 pounbds!! She smiles!! and has since been featured in the 2013 Up Country catalog, soon to be available on line. Lola (formerly Ashley) has stolen the hearts of all of us. She is the center of our world. Very true to her breed, she is My Protector. I cant imagine life without her!!

Diane Zeivel

Their loss! How dreadful but at least they left her in a safe place. Now she will grace your life. I, too, have a rescue dog that was found wondering the streets in December 2010. No one called and adopted her at an adoption event. Fate, I guess, made our dogs come to us! I'm sorry Chooey went through what she did but now she has you! Lucky you; Lucky Chooey! She is beautiful and has a wonderful shine in her eyes; she is happy! xoxoxo