A story of Love and Commitment - June 2006
Ellis was found on the side of the road with with one broken leg that had seriously been smashed and never set (a true sign of abuse) and he took to biting anyone that came near him out of fear and self-defense.
One day, Valerie and Alina were out trying to find their little Chihuahua (Wesley) a companion. Since the East Los Angeles (LA), California, animal shelter has one of the highest death rates in the LA area they agreed, “That's where we have to save a dog from.”
They started walking up and down the packed stalls. There were so many dogs that Valerie and Alina both welled up with tears. Each dog just looked at them with begging eyes. But the girls knew that they had to be realistic. They wanted a small dog that would get along with not only the Chihuahua , but also 3 cats at home!.
Their hearts were set on a girl dog but after walking the stalls a second time they noticed a tiny dog curled up in a little ball, nestled into the middle of some other larger sleeping puppies. Valerie turned to Alina and said “How about that one?” The first thing they read in big red letters were “Caution: Bites!” He was a male and only 8 months old.
It was explained that he was on his last day because he had been there over two weeks and was refusing to eat, which explained how horribly frail he was. He was also covered in ticks and had kennel cough.
Because of his biting no one wanted him and he was scheduled to be put down the next day. After visiting with the puppy Valerie and Alina both figured that at 8 months old he still could be trained not to bite and that they were sure it was out of fear and not his real personality.
The employee of the shelter was able to slip a plastic leash around his neck and drag him out into the hall. The poor thing was scared to death. People walking all around, kids running around, dogs barking non-stop. Alina went down to pet him and he snapped at her. They were warned, “If he bites you, we'll have to put him down right away.” After snapping at Alina, he ran and hid behind Valerie 's legs. Valerie took one look and said; “I'm not leaving here without him”. They both saw the sweetness in his little dark eyes.
After being neutered the next day Valerie walked into the hospital and asked for her dog. The nurse went to the back and bringing him out the door she said, “Do you know this dog? He has been snapping at everyone and we can't even get the leash off. Just take him out of here!”.
Valerie thought, “what is he going to be like when I get him home?” He sat silent in the doggie travel bag the entire one hour ride home. As soon as Valerie opened the bag at home, he leaped out and onto the floor with a crash. He was so under-nourished; he had no strength to land on his feet. He limped around and then hid behind a chair.
After much calming talk they decided that maybe he would feel safer if he saw the other pets. So they let them out and he walked right up to them and they all started sniffing around. He immediately took to the eldest cat Diego. He followed him everywhere. The Chihuahua, being 8 years old at the time, was not sure he wanted this new puppy around and started to ignore him.
Alina and Valerie had high hopes of getting a girl dog and had chosen the name "Ellis" for her. When the “her” ended up being a “him” they decided that the name Ellis worked for a boy too and so it stuck, and it has always been the perfect name for him ever since. Like it was meant to be.
The first task was getting him to a vet to cure the kennel cough which was becoming worse by the day. No vet would take him because of his biting. Finally a vet with courage agreed that if she could get the muzzle on then she would look at him. With quick skill the vet did it and removed six ticks. Giving him the pills was the easy part. They just put it in some sausage and the starving little guy just ate them right up. Maybe it was the shelter, but here at home he wanted to eat and boy, does he love cat food!
The time came to try walking him on a leash. This required cornering him, grabbing onto him, hooking him and then cleaning up the pee and poo that he left behind. Once outside he wanted to run away and would fight the leash in every direction except where they were trying to go. The only thing that saved the day was Wesley the Chihuahua . Wesley was like “just follow me, this is fun.” As long as Wesley was next to him Ellis would walk. This went on for weeks. The nightly walks that once were pleasant became such a chore. Who would pick up his mess tonight? And lets not even get started talking about the messes he would leave in the car! They had to bring towels everywhere.
For three months Ellis would only get close to the other pets, but not to Valerie and Alina. Ellis would fall semi-asleep and they would try to pet him. But Ellis would awake with a startle and then run and hide. Also not being house-trained, he would pee wherever he pleased. The girls would have to pick him up and put him in bed at night because he couldn't get down and fortunately he didn't pee in the bed. They couldn't scold or train him, fearing that they wouldn't win his love if he was afraid of them. Valerie and Alina decided to just be patient and understanding.
After about the third month he began to realize that these two girls weren't so bad. They would be sitting on the sofa watching TV and Ellis would walk swiftly by and lick their toes. When they tried to pet him he would shake - but not run right away. Even though they had already agreed that they would keep him no matter what, whether he ever took to them or not, they were thrilled at his signs of acceptance and love emerging for them.
The next true test was a trip up to the folks. Valerie 's parents lived about an hour away. They wanted to meet this new dog that they had been hearing so much about. Ellis and Wesley spent the warm summer day together by the pool. Valerie's Dad cooked T-bone steaks. When everyone was done eating, Valerie's Dad tried to win Ellis' love and by giving the dogs a barbecued T-bone. Ellis, loving to eat by this time, took that bone and went to town!
It must have been a MAGIC BONE. Later that night Ellis was a new dog!. He was jumping up on the sofa next to everyone getting petted and wagged his newly upright tail (always had been down between the legs). He rolled over to get his tummy rubbed and would run to them when they called. The day was a miracle day! From that moment on he has been the warmest dog ever. He loves to love all the time. He plays and sleeps and barks and run. AND, he has never bitten a single person since! He doesn't even try to.
All that fear has turned to 100% joy.
Valerie and Alina gave Ellis the space and time he needed to find the love that was always there. Not to mention the wonders a few treats can do to lift a sad dog's spirit.
To meet him today you'd have no clue that his life had been so rough .
He is one of the most charismatic pooches I've come across (and we operate a dog service!).
Let me tell you what we know of him….
He's alert, and so very macho around our place taking care of the ladies and puppies. He struts around here on patrol.
He has one girlfriend now. Her name is “ Freddie ” (see photo on the left). You should see them together. It's the most romantic site! Freddie will be on the couch curled up and watch Ellis jump up next to her. First they touch noses and she turns her head away. He continues to nudge her and starts to lick her ear. She'll put her front paw up and coyly block his face from hers. You can see her eyes peeking at him from the side. Ellis just edges his body closer and licks her face. Then she'll roll over so Ellis can sniff her and lick her neck and other ear. She begins to sniff and lick him back. They start to playfully bite each other and wrestle. After wrestling for a bit they settle down next to each other and take a nap. I'm NOT KIDDING! I've documented it several times.
Wait.. he as TWO girlfriends.. Freddie AND our girl Jasmine (photo on the right)
!He is SUCH a Romeo!
Ellis has also taken on the role of protector of the ladies and puppies. Once we had a four-month-old puppy here. There were these two other terriers trying to sniff the puppy would “gang up' on him. The puppy was scared and so Ellis leaped off of the comfy warm doggie bed he was on and placed his body right in between the puppy and the terriers.
He growled, his body was stiff and erect, and he glared at the terriers chasing them away. Course they backed off and Ellis then went back to the couch. A few minutes later the two terriers started to approach the puppy again and Ellis again jumped of the couch, stood between them and they backed off. After that the terriers pretty much left the puppy alone. It was fascinating! What a guy!
Another time he was lounging on the couch with our little girl... very fluffy blond! He decided to stay with her after she had some problems with a bigger dog that kept harassing her to play. Ellis came out of nowhere when he heard her yell at the bigger dog. He was at her side and telling the big dog off. Ellis got his message across and the big dog left. Ellis then licked her ear and laid next to her for a while as she fell asleep.
He has his favorite toys that he loves to grab and greet you with when he's excited.
Ellis also loves to play fetch and spends a lot of time being a referee to the other dogs when they play their games out in the yard.
And if it's doggie love you want… Ellis is the guy! He will cuddle in your arms anytime you want to. He'll lay back and let you rub his tummy and remind you of his affection with a lick or two on the nose. Or ...he'll just sit on the couch next to you and give you that look of serenity with his eyes half closed. And, he is always ready to cuddle in your arms under a blanket for a nap.
When I think of how close he came to being eliminated and what a great joy he now brings to all who know him.
I remember that MOST dogs CAN be saved and loved.
Who would have known that this little guy was just waiting
for an opportunity to live and to love!
by Lori Oshiro
as told by Valerie Whitesell
observed by Lori Oshiro