Chewy was a dog that everyone in the Modesto, California, neighborhood knew. He was spotted on many of the streets. Once he trailed a man named Adam while he was jogging, or stop to play with Denise’s dog, Boss. People in Graceado Park wondered who he belonged to. Chewy belonged to no one.
The Border Collie-Saint Bernard mix didn’t really have a home, except for a bridge over a canal near Enslen Park. Every evening after socializing with his neighbors he returned to the bridge and sat near a telephone pole. When people would cross, Chewy came up to them in a friendly but timid manner. He seemed to want to be friends, but the moment a hand was outstretched he shied away. Curious, but reserved, as if they were not the person he was looking for.
The neighbors took a deep interest in the sweet dog that had seemingly become a pillar of the community. People left food for him, and blankets in the colder weather. During the rain, someone gave Chewy a large, plastic doghouse. Worried residents occasionally tried to catch him, but to no avail.
Bruce and Lauren Klein fed Chewy at night, and met fellow neighbors Cecilia and Gary. Cecilia fed him in the morning, and Gary was just mad about this amiable dog. Gary informed the Kleins that some kids had been seen throwing rocks at Chewy. Infuriated, Lauren and Cecilia devised a plan to save him.
If they could tranquilize him, Lauren and Bruce would have him neutered and would adopt him. One rainy night, Cecilia dosed some hamburger with tranquilizers, and then played the waiting game. She sat in her car, counting the minutes until Chewy drifted off. An hour passed, then two, before she made her way home to sleep, sans Chewy. She spent the night worrying, and returned at 5 am to find him asleep, having taken shelter beneath Gary’s car.
Cecilia did her best to move the heavy dog from under the car and down the driveway to her own car. But his dead weight made him nearly immovable. Fortunately, a paper boy happened to be nearby and helped her load the dozing dog into her car. When Chewy awoke, it was to a new home and a new life.
Five years down the road, and Chewy has become one of the Kleins. When Lauren walks him, people occasionally pull their cars over to say hello. Over 100 people have shared their own Chewy story with her. Recently, a man ran out of his house, delighted to see Chewy and hear of his rescue.
“This,” he said, “this is my perfect birthday gift. On behalf of the neighborhood, thank you for saving Chewy.”
Even though Chewy had belonged to no one, he really belonged to everyone.
“My wife, Denise, Gary and Cecilia rescued Chewy. But a whole group of neighbors and the neighborhood’s goodwill saved Chewy,” Bruce reflected. “They did this because this kind, gentle, shy and extraordinary dog touched their hearts.”