To be honest, Chelsea came to us a little like an unwanted pregnancy. We weren't ready for her, but love her anyway. My husband and I had just lost our beloved, first Leo, Bubba (Cherrywood's E-Male), a month before we got the call from Ann Duyster with LeoRescue about Chelsea.
We had been through the heartbreaking process of osteosarcoma, were still grieving, and we told Ann we were not up to taking a dog just yet. A week or so went by and another call came from Ann saying there was no one else in the area willing to take Chelsea. So, I agreed to foster Chelsea until a permanent home was found.
Chelsea was rescued from an animal shelter when she was about 9 months old. She had been hit by a car and three months later was dumped at the shelter in the middle of the night. Her right hip had been crushed in the accident, had not been treated and was necrotic. Her left hip was displaced but usable. Under the loving care of Judy Johnston, she was rescued, had surgery, physical therapy and was placed in a home in Virginia. That placement did not work, so we agreed to go pick her up. Chelsea turned out to be a scrawny, limping, small-boned Leo with a sharp face, much like a large Border Collie wearing a Leo costume. She was very unsteady on her back feet. And her personality was very exuberant and extremely demanding of attention. Ann warned me that she was a "turbo-Leo."
Chelsea also came with the rescue baggage. She startles very easily and is fearful of strangers or even objects out of place in the yard. She barks a lot. Our first experiment at leaving her alone in the yard for an hour while we went out to eat, left us with both the front and back doors badly chewed.
After about a month with Chelsea I began to realize that her hips were not getting better from her operation in Ohio, and might actually be getting worse. Her bad leg hung like a broken tree branch when she was standing still and felt like a wet noodle when you picked it up. With the blessing of Leo Rescue I took Chelsea to a specialist who told me that because Chelsea was still a puppy, she was forming calcium deposits at her injury site. She would need another hip operation. In the meantime Ann Duyster was trying valiantly to find Chelsea a permanent home but there were no takers. The timing was not good either, just after Hurricane Katrina when there were many pets needing homes.
LeoRescue kindly agreed to pay for a second hip operation and we committed to see her through the weeks of recovery. After that, of course, we were hooked and wanted to keep her. She now walks on four legs and is much more mobile. The surgeon is campaigning to give her a total hip replacement on the other hip in order to "give her one good leg." I am inclined not to do that right now because she shows no pain and has adapted really well. She can run like the wind chasing our cows as long as she doesn't have to turn a corner.
The hardest challenge I've faced with Chelsea is finding an outlet for her turbo-charged personality. We have a wonderful dog park just down the street, but I 've had to quit taking her because she over-does it and comes home limping. I take her to water therapy once or twice a week, which has been a great help, but is expensive. Sadly, I think Chelsea would have been a terrific agility dog, with her high-energy personality and small, quick body.
Chelsea has been both a pleasure and a challenge to take care of. She is so sensitive, loving and eager to please. I keep telling Ann that she will be a wonderful dog when she grows up! But then you know, she's a Leo puppy!