Why would you choose to own a dog if all you’re going to do is leave it chained up for the duration of its life? Dogs need love and attention, fun and training. They’re unable to care for themselves, so humans must provide them with a safe, clean bed and place to relieve themselves.
A poor senior husky named Cloud spent the majority of his 15 years tethered to a heavy chain. He’d never spent time inside a home but restricted outside one.
Last month, emergency workers rushed to a property in New Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; a roof collapsed on a dilapidated home. While on the premises, workers noticed Cloud.
A new animal welfare regulation called Libre’s Law went into effect last year. In the state of Pennsylvania, it’s illegal to keep a dog chained outside for more than nine hours a day. The law says that if temperatures are below freezing, an animal can’t be chained up for more than a half hour. Owners also can’t leave their pets chained up in an area filled with waste. Cloud’s owners were breaking all the rules.
Cloud had a doghouse and a car roof, but they didn’t serve as adequate shelter. Rescuers from Hillside SPCA, a local animal rescue and shelter arrived as quickly as they could. They informed Cloud’s owners they were breaking the law. They agreed to surrender the husky to them.
“When we met Cloud we were in shock at his condition,” Tricia Moyer, assistant shelter manager at Hillside SPCA, told The Dodo. “He was a broken, sad shell of a dog. His fur was thickly matted. He had a large mass on his hind end, and he was very thin.”
The elderly husky was taken back to the rescue shelter and examined. A vet determined the mass was a tumor; Concerns were raised that the scared senior dog was too old for surgery. Staff also discovered he was deaf. He wasn’t adjusting well to the shelter environment. He pace, fall and collapse; fall asleep and wake up and start his pacing all over again.
Moyer reached out to Eleanor Garrett, co-chair of Senior Dog Haven and Hospice. She hoped the other woman could foster Cloud.
“She [Moyer] was pretty upset,” Garrett said. “She sees dogs in all kinds of conditions, but she said, ‘This dog wasn’t acting like a dog at all, he’s just a mess. He’s walking into things.’ I don’t think he’d ever been inside anywhere in his life, so he was just so out of sorts.”
Garrett agreed to take Cloud. Bringing him into her home wouldn’t resolve anything. “He wouldn’t stop pacing, he wouldn’t stop moving,” Garrett said. “I had him in my house, and he was knocking things over. He was running into things, and I thought, ‘Oh no. This is going to be difficult.’”
Cloud did all he could to avoid contact with Garrett and her three kids. “He wouldn’t interact with us, and if you tried to go over to him, he’d just hide in the corner,” Garrett said. “He found a spot in my laundry room next to my dryer. There were things next to it, and he knocked it all over — it was almost like he was trying to get behind the dryer to hide. He stayed like that for over 24 hours.”
She left Cloud alone, hoping this would do the trick. And wouldn’t you know it? All he needed was space. “I was in my laundry room getting something, and all of a sudden, I felt this little swipe of a paw on my foot,” Garrett said. “I looked down, and he was swiping at me to try and sit down and pet him. So I sat down, and I started petting him, and he started giving me kisses, and anytime I stopped, he would swipe his paw at me again.”
Once he opened up, this changed the whole dynamic of Garrett and Cloud’s relationship.“It was like he seemed to realize that we were friendly and we were safe,” Garrett said. “Every day from that point, he just got better and better and better.”
It still took time for Cloud to figure things out. “We always had to go outside to get him to come back in — he would never just come back to the door,” Garrett said. “But at one point, he realized, ‘Hey, I want to be inside.’ And every time he’d go out, he’d go to the bathroom, and he’d come right back to the door and sit right at the door and wait to come in.”
Garrett has six other dogs: Izzy, Charlie, Boo, Casper, Riley, and Sue. She credits them with helping Cloud learn to be a dog. “It was almost like my dogs taught him how to be a dog and how to act.”
She was only meant to keep Cloud for a short time. A couple contacted her about possibly adopting the old boy. Garrett set up a meeting. And wouldn’t you know, Cloud found a happy forever home. “The husband leaned down to pet him, and Cloud got up and gave him a big kiss in the face, and the husband was like, ‘All right. We can do this. We’ve got to take him. We’re definitely taking him,’” Garrett said.
Just last week, Cloud, now named Titus, moved into his new home. He had an easier time adjusting if the pictures of him making himself comfortable are any indication. “They’ve created a bucket list for him, so they’re working on all sorts of things that he never got to do his entire life,” Garrett said. “He’s been going on walks — I don’t think he’s ever been walked before and he loves it. They got him a big orthopedic bed. Someone contacted them about doing a photo shoot. Somebody else contacted them and said they could offer a doggy massage.”
It’s incredible what a little patience, a lot of love and some time will do for one long-time neglected dog. Titus appears to be thriving in his new forever home.