Sunny with scattered showers:
Kelly, a dog recovering from life on a chain

(3/22/12) By Lise McComiskey, from her blog Sheltered Lives

In late 2010, on my way to the courthouse in St. Bernard, I came across a chained dog in the Lower 9th Ward. The small, white, female pit was chained to a slab of concrete about the size of an average front step. She was tethered with a heavy chain and padlock and had no shelter, no food and dirty water. I talked to her owner that day and made a plan to help get this dog off her chain and that weekend I went back with supplies to build a fence. After spending hours alone building the fence, I gave the people an igloo dog house and a couple of large bags of dry dog food. They thanked me and promised me she would not be put back on the chain. After a week, I checked back and the dog seemed happier. I made arrangements to have a fellow rescuer check in on her from time to time and so I made the deadly assumption that all was okay when I received no further details. Fast forward nine months later and another trip to the courthouse and I was horrified to find the dog back on the chain, this time locked to the fence and the dog house under some overgrown weeds in an empty lot behind the house. Suffice it to say I was livid and within the hour the owner had surrendered the dog to me and ARNO.

"Kelly" was very timid and frightened, she ducked her head on the ride back to the shelter but within days she grew more comfortable and we found a playful, loving dog. But Kelly is not without scars, her life, approximately 2-3 years of it, was on the end of a very short chain and we have begun seeing the long term effects. While Kelly is still loving and playful with humans, she does not know how to act and react with other dogs and lately she has gotten into more and more scrapes, busting out of her run and trying to attack another dog and showing barrier aggression as well. Everyone at ARNO keeps asking the same thing, "What are we going to do with Kelly?" and I have to admit, I have been asking myself the same question. But a recent experience has shown me the answer to that question and it's a simple one.

During a recent thunderstorm I decided to bring Kelly in from her covered outdoor run just in case she was getting wet at all, and put her in a run next to a young male dog. Unfortunately, that was not the best choice and within the hour we were at the animal emergency room with Kelly as the other dog had reacted to her antagonizing him and had bitten her paw. Kelly was stitched up under anesthesia and we took her back to the shelter with instructions to keep her paw absolutely 100% dry. But where were we going to put her? We couldn't put her back in her outdoor run and yet we knew she is too stressed within the shelter because she gets over-stimulated and then doesn't know how to act and react around the other dogs. Well, I was the one who made the mistake of putting her next to the wrong dog so the answer was clear — I would keep her in my room during her recuperation. I wasn't prepared to discover a totally different Kelly.

Kelly has spent the last week recuperating in a home-like atmosphere and she has shown me what she is truly made of: sugar and sloppy kisses, tail wags and soft body slams, snoring and passing gas and most of all, complete adoration of the human she is next to. So now I have my answer, "What are we going to do with Kelly?" What we need to do, what we must do, the only thing that we can do, is find this total lover of life a home to call her own. I firmly believe that Kelly will completely blossom in a home environment, but she will never completely lose the scars of life on a chain so there are certain things she needs.

Kelly needs a person who will love her unconditionally without the need to take her to a dog park where she might become over-stimulated and get into a fight with another dog. Kelly needs a person who isn't even that fond of dog walks, but instead is happy to live with Kelly inside and then play with her until she is exhausted in a fenced back yard. Kelly needs a person who is willing to be firm but loving, patient but a leader, and someone who will understand her scars and not expect more from her than what she is, a dog who needs only a human to love her.

Can you be that person? Can you offer Kelly a chance at a wonderful life in a home and a backyard without feeling the need to take her places where she might be too overwhelmed to go? Kelly has so much love to give to someone, she loves all people and wants badly to please and now, after taking her into my small space, a home as far as she is concerned, I am determined to find somewhere and someone for Kelly to call her own.

If you would like to meet Kelly, please email or stop by our shelter at 271 Plauche Street in Harahan to meet Kelly between 3-7 any day of the week. If you can't give Kelly a home, please forward this far and wide to anyone you know who might be willing to help Kelly to continue to outgrow her past and her scars of life on a chain.

Editor’s note: Lise McComiskey is ARNO’s Feral K9 Coordinator and has been with ARNO since its inception in late 2005. While Kelly is not a feral dog by any means, Lise always takes personal interest in all our shelter pets (cats or dogs) that need special attention. ARNO is lucky to have her as part of our team. If you would like to support ARNO’s work with homeless pets please consider a small donation to help us keep going. We are all volunteer and 100% of all donations are used to help animals. Just click on ‘donate’ and you can use a credit card or an electronic check. Better yet, if you are the home that Kelly needs please contact us.

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