Meet Cleo: My $500 Free Dog

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By: Arden Moore

It is never easy to admit that you have a bias. But when you do and can work on overcoming it, the results can be amazing.

I guess that is why a tiny mixed breed dog came into my life about a year ago. For years, I declared that I was more comfortable around dogs medium size and larger. I used to joke that I never wanted a dog smaller than my cats.

Then Cleo showed up. She arrived in the backyard of my elderly neighbor, Flo, at night. Flo’s dog, Buddy, a vocal mini-Schnauzer, sounded the bark-bark-bark alert that something was shaking and whimpering on the back porch. Flo saw this small, frightened dog and was not certain how Buddy would react if she brought in this dog, so she called me.

My dog, Chipper, a 60-pound Golden retriever/Husky mix, is a former shelter mascot who is used to dogs and cats of all sizes and attitudes. She, like my two cats, Callie and Murphy, also know what it is like to be without a home and then to be rescued. My three pets welcomed Cleo without a growl or a hiss.

Cleo weighed barely 10 pounds when she arrived. Her coat was matted and dry and her teeth were nearly brown. I could feel and see her ribs. She sported a collar that was too tight bearing her name and a phone number from an area two counties away. I tried calling the number, but it was disconnected. I also left word with that county’s animal shelter as well as those in my area. I posted signs. I alerted neighbors.

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No calls. Something told me that this little dog either ran away or was dumped. What was certain was that she was in dire need of good nutrition, a bath and a complete physical exam by my veterinarian. Within a month, I had spent $500 plus to provide her with the necessary vaccination, dental cleaning, food, grooming, bedding, leash, collar, cool toys – and most importantly, pet insurance.

Cleo has taught me that little dogs sport big hearts. She now weighs 12 pounds and her once too-skinny body is toned and muscular. She easily trots next to Chipper on our daily 40-minute walks and cuddles with my cats during afternoon naps. She races to greet me when I come home and is learning tricks to earn healthy treats.

Like many of you, I didn’t plan on adopting a second dog. It just happened. But something told me that she deserved a second chance in a caring home. On June 27, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of her arrival into Flo’s backyard and my home. For Cleo, June 27 marked a new beginning — and for me, it marked the end of a bias toward dogs smaller than cats.

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