An update on the story of Ella, the lost dog who found C&I's editorial director this summer.
I was loading up for a July Fourth family get-together when I saw her running up and down the middle lane of a busy street. Skinny, panting, and panicked with a filthy collar and chain link hanging from her neck, this stranger was not coping well with independence.
While I’m too often a tentative dude, I never hesitate for a second to give aid to an innocent creature in need. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” As soon as I felt she was safe from traffic, I squatted down and called her over. Ten minutes later, she was in my backyard eating canned food I’d brought out, drinking fresh water, and thanking me with two of the most gorgeous canine eyes I’d ever seen.
Yet another poor creature who bolted when the fireworks exploded? I’ll never know, but my surprise visitor and I are now on our 20th day of doggy rehab together. At 28 pounds, she responds to “Ella” and is resting comfortably in my living room, wearing a “cone of shame” following her spaying surgery. Tagless when I found her — or when she found me — she’s now registered, chipped, vet-checked, and building her strength for several upcoming rounds of heartworm treatments. And she’s trying so hard to win the affection of my admittedly irascible male terrier who, uh, ain’t quite as charitable as I am in these types of situations.
I want to get Ella in shape to be a healthy, thriving member of my family or the pretty-eyed constant in someone else’s loving home. Either way, she’s a damn fine dog — follows you everywhere you go, lies at your feet, watches over you when you nap (in a noncreepy way), and bounds around outside with a newfound vigor. She trains amazingly well — I could see her fitting right in on a farm or ranch and taking on her share of good, honest work.
To think someone didn’t see that in her, kept her chained up on her own, or even dumped her ... it confounds me.
As special and magical as Ella is, there’s sadly nothing singular about her story. There are millions of similar tales of lost, abused, and neglected would-be best friends, and so many without a happy ending.
We often look to heroic organizations such as Best Friends Animal Society, the American Humane Society, and countless local no-kill shelters like the one in my small Texas town that checked Ella for a chip and offered me a spaying voucher. But it’s abundantly clear that we should do more on an individual level. Anyone at C&I will tell you the same — we’re a team made up of passionate animal lovers and rescuers.
Whether these furry friends show up at our ranches or on busy streets outside our houses, we’re always willing to give them some shelter and care and the chance at a good life. It’s all about love and companionship.
UPDATE, OCTOBER 2021: Those of you who first read Ella’s story in the October 2021 edition might be interested to know that she’s still with me and my cranky little terrier, Sparky. Relations have smoothed around the house, and they’re co-existing just fine.
And here’s the real news: Ella’s now ours, forever and ever. I conducted a search for a good home, but the longer it went on, the less I could stand the thought of letting her go. She’s about to complete her heartworm treatments, has filled out to 33 pounds, and is already acting like a completely different dog from when she first arrived on the scene.
Ella’s home now, and I’m hoping she forgets all about the hardscrabble times that brought her to me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go buy some more kibble.
LOOKING FOR A BEST FRIEND? Consider adopting a dog or cat – there are so many who just need a place to stay and the love of a family to turn their lives around. After Ella’s story appeared in C&I, we received many stories and photos from folks just like you who took the leap, saved a dog’s life, and were forever changed because of it. Read some of those stories here.