The first time Chuck Weintraub saw the 1-year-old pit bull mix, "she looked like a bald cat," he said. The sad little dog was afraid of everyone and everything.
He took Chloe into his Cranberry home last May, had her treated for demodex mange, and used love, patience and string cheese to teach her to trust people and enjoy life. In two months Chloe gained 8 pounds and most of her hair grew back. She bonded with Mr. Weintraub, never leaving his side.
Despite that bond, Chloe wasn't really his dog. He and his wife, Sherrard Bostwick, were fostering the dog for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society until she could find a permanent home.
No matter whose dog she was, on July 3, Chloe saved Mr. Weintraub's life.
Perhaps you've heard this story. It was reported locally earlier this month and widely shared on social media, including the Dogs Are Family Facebook page, where it got 526,000 "likes." I was out of town on vacation and missed all of this, so now I'm reporting the rest of the story, including a very happy ending:
On July 18, Chloe was given to a carefully chosen Pittsburgh family and is settling in to her "forever" home. But first, let's look at what this amazing little dog did.
Ms. Bostwick was not home July 3 when her husband collapsed while cutting the lawn. The dog who was so scared of strangers left the yard, which she had never done before, and ran 200 yards to a neighbor's house. Every time neighbors tried to catch her, Chloe backed up 15 or 20 feet and sat down. In this manner, Chloe led people to her yard, where Mr. Weintraub was unconscious and not breathing.
"I was gone," he said.
Neighbors called 911 and did CPR until the ambulance arrived. Early reports said Mr. Weintraub, 59, had a heart attack. That's not true, he said. His heart "had an electrical problem" that has been corrected with a pacemaker.
When he woke up, one of his first visitors was Chloe. Doctors and nurses at UPMC Passavant wanted to meet her. Chloe was thrilled to see him but was uneasy in the unfamiliar setting with so many strangers. Not for long, though. Oddly, Chloe's life-saving rescue brought her out of her shell "more than anything I had done for her," Mr. Weintraub said.
"After Chloe saved me she began to explore the world."
But it was time for her to move on, he said. How do you say goodbye to the dog who saved your life? With great difficulty, and with a heavy heart.
"Chloe saved my life so that I could save more dogs," Mr. Weintraub explained.
He has fostered 12-15 dogs in the past three years. When he got married two years ago, his bride embraced his love of fostering dogs. The couple already has two "rescue dogs" -- golden retrievers Molly, 12, and Dama, 8. If they had kept Chloe, they could not have taken in another foster dog.
"There are so many Chloes in shelters and rescues," and Mr. Weintraub said he wants to help them, too.
The dark side of this story is the many snarky, mean comments made about Mr. Weintraub on social media. Many damned him for saying he would let Chloe be adopted. Others demanded that he and his wife MUST adopt Chloe.
Foster families are precious commodities in the rescue community. Without the rehabilitation and training provided in foster homes, Chloe and dogs like her -- less-than-perfect dogs with "issues" --would generally be euthanized.
Some dog lovers predicted that Chloe would grieve if she was separated from Mr. Weintraub. That didn't happen.
David and Heather Rauenswinter saw Chloe on TV and were touched by her story. They were still grieving the death two months ago of their pit bull mix, Zoe, 13. Their 4-year-old son, D.J., and 2-year-old daughter, Aleah, were having a hard time dealing with Zoe's death, as was their shepherd-collie mix, Hank, 8.
The Rauenswinters were among the many people who called the shelter about adopting Chloe. Mr. Weintraub is touched that the Humane Society allowed him to interview applicants and agreed with his choice.
The Rauenswinters "will provide a better home than I ever could," said Mr. Weintraub, who works as a sales consultant. Mrs. Rauenswinter is home with her children much of the time.
Chloe easily settled in with her new family from the very beginning, Mrs. Rauenswinter said. She now enjoys meeting new people and "really took to my mother-in-law." Chloe loves playing with Hank, Precious, the family's cat, and the children. She enjoys the many toys D.J. and Aleah have bought for her.
"We feel our Zoe led Chloe into our lives," Mrs. Rauenswinter said. "Chloe has made our children happy and whole. Chloe has made our house feel whole again."
Hair cutting fundraiser
Master hairstylist Patrick Lomantini is going on a "BarkAid" tour, cutting hair in 50 states in 50 days to benefit shelters, including the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society. He's cutting on Aug. 11 at Kaule's Family Hairstyling Center, 7703 Perry Highway, Ross (15237).
The suggested donation is $20, and all proceeds will go to the shelters on the North Side and Elizabeth Township, said volunteer Megan Ward Robinson, who organized the event for the second year. Call 412-366-7240 to make a reservation.
Free cat spay and neuter
Mary Allen shared her Lawrenceville home with cats, and she cared for a colony of feral cats in Garfield. Ms. Allen was 69 when she died in March, and her cousin thinks she has come up with the perfect way to honor a woman who loved all animals, especially cats.
Elizabeth Spence of Hampton has donated money in memory of Mary Allen so that 60 cats can be spayed and neutered for free at the Animal Rescue League in Larimer. The cats will also be inoculated against rabies and distemper and receive flea treatments. The value is $55 per cat.
Advance appointments are needed for the Aug. 14 Mary Allen Spay and Neuter Day. The family has earmarked 40 slots for cat owners who are at least 60 years old. Call 412-345-7300, extension 211.
Ms. Allen's pets and ferals have been taken in at the In Care of Cats Inc. rescue operated by Rise Chontos.
Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-263-3064. Got a pet health question? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. It may be answered in an upcoming Pet Points column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic.