Chilly the Super-Collar-Model

July 17, 2013  

After three failed adoptions, this Elderbull finds the perfect home and the perfect job

By Jen Zhang

When I met Chilly in the autumn of 2008, she was 7 years old and had just flown from Wisconsin back to California. A family had adopted her from the East Bay SPCA in Oakland, Calif., moved her with them to Wisconsin, and then decided that she was not a good match for their family because she was scared of thunderstorms.

I had no idea then that Chilly belonged with me, and it would take two more failed adoptions, two years and an ultimatum before my girl finally came home.

Chilly’s second adoption was a disaster. Unbeknownst to shelter staff at the time, her adopter kept her chained in the back yard together with a free-roaming large dog. One day the dogs got into a fight, which left Chilly badly wounded and sent her back to the shelter.

The third and final adoption was brief, lasting just a week or so. On its last day, Chilly was left alone, tied to a file cabinet in an office space while her adopter attended a meeting in a different room. Chilly panicked, broke free and damaged some furniture.

By this time, three failed adoptions and two plus years in the shelter system had taken their toll on the 9-year-old. The once lively fetch-a-holic had become extremely stressed out, depressed and withdrawn. Chilly also suffered increasingly from arthritis in her back hips, gingivitis and severe separation anxiety; for these conditions, she was prescribed pain and antidepressant medications.

The ultimatum finally came in May 2010. After several unsuccessful attempts, shelter management put out its last call for an experienced volunteer to foster and rehabilitate Chilly.

When we realized that the alternative to not finding a long-term foster would be euthanasia, we immediately brought our favorite golden girl home with us.

The transition from shelter to our home was not easy. Besides her high level of anxiety, Chilly didn’t get along with one of our dogs, Sally, who was an extremely fearful, one-eyed Chihuahua mix that we had adopted just a year earlier. Additionally, we found a suspicious lump on her chest and she underwent surgery, which added even more stress during this difficult time.

But with the help and guidance of knowledgeable, wonderful friends, we overcame numerous hurdles and slowly but surely, Chilly adjusted and improved.

Today the 10-year-old Elderbull no longer depends on any medication but instead thrives on an active, healthy lifestyle.

She enjoys hiking and exploring the great San Francisco Bay Area outdoors. On average, Chilly and her Doberman brother, Guinness, hike about five miles every weekend, sometimes climbing steep ascents and covering as much as 900 feet in elevation change on their favorite trails at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness.

Due to her arthritis, we had to stop playing her favorite game of fetch. Refusing to accept this change, Chilly quickly learned to swim and brought her game in the water.

Swimming is a great activity for Chilly; it’s gentle on her arthritic hips and an all-around fantastic exercise. One of her favorite things to do in the summertime is going to the lake with her buddies and swimming for hours!

Besides hiking and swimming, Chilly enjoys camping, going to the beach, and spending quality time with her family and friends. I should mention that she and Sally have worked out their differences and learned to co-exist peacefully.

Chilly has also taken on a more glamorous responsibility – as a super-collar-model for Sirius Republic, our retail shop offering handmade collars, leashes and dog tags. She takes her modeling responsibility seriously, and only asks for some treats and belly rubs in return.

Chilly is my hero and living with her has taught and inspired me so much in so many ways. She always looks forward, no matter how bad her past may have been. She embraces the good, leaves behind the bad and just keeps moving forward.

We officially adopted Chilly in October 2010. In February 2011, Chilly passed and received her Canine Good Citizen certificate at the age of 10 from the American Kennel Club.

This article was originally posted on September 26, 2011.

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