Most of our forever stories are named “So-and-so Goes Home,” but this time? Chad stays home. Why? He’s been there for months … and he will stay there for many more to come.

Welcome to our newest foster failure!

How He Got Here

For those who aren’t familiar with Chad’s past, it wasn’t a pretty one. In fact, it was quite heartbreaking.

He and his mate, Clarisse, were abandoned at their house by their family. It wasn’t just the two of them, though. There were bigger dogs and, in the fight for survival and to protect Clarisse, Chad was badly bitten by one of the other dogs and it quickly became infected. Luckily, a neighbor was aware of their situation and called animal control. While that call is not always a good one for most dogs, it was Chad’s saving grace.

Their story made it to the “interwebs” and several of us tag-teamed to save them from the shelter. They went to foster care with Dede and Larry, where they were loved beyond words at their “senior center.” Chad’s infection was easily treated, but Clarisse’s heartworms were too severe. She did not survive the treatments and left all of us heartbroken, including Chad. He loved his girl.

He was comfortable with Larry, but still very scared of the outside world and men in general. He needed special one-on-one attention, and we all knew it.

The Warrens fell in love with him and stepped up to help him during his transition to rescue. He did well with mom and the cat(!), but had a hard time accepting his new foster father and extended family. As much as they wanted to help him, they knew he needed lots of time–and lots of patience–to overcome the damage that had been done.

Enter, Team Schwutke …

Kevin and Elisa have been filling some much-needed voids at rescue the past year and a half: Fostering and finding homes for dogs, temperament-testing new dogs, and introducing prospective parents and their dogs to our dogs on adoption day. They saw Chad, cowered in a kennel one day, and immediately wanted to help him. They knew he wasn’t going to be an “easy one,” but they were more than willing to “take him on” and help him become the great dog that he was born to be.

It’s been a long nine months, but ones that have fostered much love and trust. He has given them as much as he has given them and, on Monday, they made it official: They are joining the “foster failure” pack. He is now theirs.

We know dogs live in the moment, so he might not always grieve for Clarisse like we would … but now he never has to. Isis loves him just as much.

Mom’s Story

We’ve given you some background, but no one sums it up like his new mom … and her beautiful photos …

By Elisa Schwutke

“I don’t know where to start with the story about my Chaddy. He came to us in February 2014. We had a few other foster dogs before, who all went into their happy forever homes, and we were ready for a new one. On one of our weekly visits to the ranch, we saw a “new” dog in a kennel (he has been to foster before twice). He was one of the most fearful dogs at the ranch so far; he looked terrified, his eyes were almost popping out of his head. He had the saddest face I had ever seen. So we picked him, ready for a new challenge.

I will never forget my first walk with him at the ranch, even Mama Donna needed a second volunteer and 15 minutes to get him out of the kennel (they had to chase and catch him) and than she came carrying him. She told me, “I can’t walk him, he will take off and run away.” But I was sure about what I was doing and convinced Donna to put him on the ground. I walked him and he did fine. He was good with Isis, our dog, and we took him home.

In no time, he became very familiar with me, Isis, and the house. The yard, the outside world, strangers, and my husband? Not so much. He had two different personalities. The incredible funny, happy, cuddly, playful, cheeky Chaddy … and the scared Chad with the popping eyes. When Kevin was at home, he almost fell into a numbness, sneaking very slowly and trying to avoid every contact with him.

With a lot of treats, quality time on our trips to the woods/beach, playing ball, excitement from my side and calmness and patience from Kevin’s side, we made more and more progress. And on our vacation two weeks ago, they finally played for the first time together and spent time together without me…  all by Chad’s choice.

He is still not a fan of strangers and will most likely never be. But that is OK for us, we love him the way he is. For me, this dog is the big doggy love of my life. Isis is a daddy’s girl and that is wonderful. But Chad never fails to amuse me. He is my daily laugh, my daily happiness, my daily cuddle time. And one day I realized I can’t be without him anymore. He belongs to us and he will stay with us!”