Some dogs are built to stand up to the cold. Siberian huskies are definitely one of these breeds, and if you ever doubt that, just check out their super-thick coats as proof! Still, just because a dog is bred for cool weather doesn’t mean it’s safe for them to be left out in freezing conditions for very long.
Tragically, for one Siberian husky named Cloud, being exposed to frigid climes was a way of life. The poor pooch was forced to live chained outside of a dilapidated house. It wasn’t until a random accident that fate intervened—and the next chapter of this husky’s life held twists and turns that no one saw coming.
Rescue workers raced to the scene of a potential disaster when they heard that a house in New Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had collapsed. When they arrived, however, the last thing they expected to see was a husky tied to a weighted chain.
Pennsylvania actually has strict animal welfare laws. For instance, it’s illegal to keep a dog chained up outside for more than nine hours a day. In the winter months, that number drops, and in freezing weather, a dog can only be chained up outside for 30 minutes.
This poor dog, whose name was Cloud, wasn’t just being chained up illegally; he was forced to stand in his own waste. To make matters worse, a battered truck roof was all that he had for shelter. These conditions were deplorable.
When rescue workers from the Hillside SPCA arrived on the scene, they quickly concluded that Cloud had probably been chained up for most of his life. Thankfully, after learning they were breaking the law, Cloud’s owners relinquished him to the SPCA team.
“When we met Cloud we were in shock at his condition,” said Hillside SPCA’s assistant manager, Tricia Moyer. “He was a broken, sad shell of a dog. His fur was thickly matted. He had a large mass on his hind end and he was very thin.”
The SPCA veterinarian performed an examination, and they learned that the mass on Cloud’s rear was actually a tumor. Sadly, given his age, it wasn’t safe to operate. To make matters worse, they also determined that the poor dog was deaf.
Unfortunately, Cloud had a difficult time thriving in the shelter environment. Every hour he was awake, he would pace until he collapsed—and then he’d wake back up and start his cycle of pacing all over again. The shelter decided it was time to reach out for help…
They contacted Eleanor Garrett with Senior Dog Haven and Hospice to see if she could foster Cloud. “This dog wasn’t acting like a dog at all, he’s just a mess,” said Eleanor. “He’s walking into things. I don’t think he’d ever been inside anywhere in his life, so he was just so out of sorts.”
Her heart went out to the dog and she was happy to foster him, but that love wasn’t enough to instantly heal Cloud. “He wouldn’t stop pacing, he wouldn’t stop moving,” said Eleanor. “I had him in my house, and he was knocking things over. He was running into things, and I thought, ‘Oh no. This is going to be difficult.’”
Cloud was wary of people, too, and he did everything in his power to avoid Eleanor and her three children. “He wouldn’t interact with us, and if you tried to go over to him, he’d just hide in the corner,” she said.
“He found a spot in my laundry room next to my dryer. There were things next to it, and he knocked it all over—it was almost like he was trying to get behind the dryer to hide. He stayed like that for over 24 hours,” she said. Eleanor decided not to try and force him out. Instead, she gave him time until she had a breakthrough…
“I was in my laundry room getting something, and all of a sudden, I felt this little swipe of a paw on my foot,” said Eleanor. “I looked down, and he was swiping at me to try and sit down and pet him. So I sat down and I started petting him, and he started giving me kisses, and anytime I stopped, he would swipe his paw at me again.”
“It was like he seemed to realize that we were friendly and we were safe,” Eleanor said. “Every day from that point, he just got better and better and better.” Was Cloud finally turning a corner?
Of course, there were still bumps in the road. “We always had to go outside to get him to come back in—he would never just come back to the door,” said Eleanor. “But at one point, he realized, ‘Hey, I want to be inside.’ And every time he’d go out, he’d go to the bathroom and he’d come right back to the door and sit right at the door and wait to come in.”
Eleanor didn’t take sole credit for Cloud’s amazing recovery, either. She thought her six other dogs played a major role. “It was almost like my dogs taught him how to be a dog and how to act,” she said.
As much as she loved him, Eleanor never planned on keeping Cloud—seven pooches would’ve been too much! So she was understandably delighted when she learned about a couple who wanted to meet him. They arranged an initial meeting, and it was love at first pet for all parties involved!
“The husband leaned down to pet him, and Cloud got up and gave him a big kiss in the face, and the husband was like, ‘All right. We can do this. We’ve got to take him. We’re definitely taking him,’” said Eleanor.
Cloud moved in with his new family a week later, and in spite of concerns about his adjusting, he took to the place like a fish to water! It was almost like he could tell how much his adoptive family loved him.
“They’ve created a bucket list for him, so they’re working on all sorts of things that he never got to do his entire life,” Eleanor said. “He’s been going on walks—I don’t think he’s ever been walked before and he loves it. They got him a big orthopedic bed. Someone contacted them about doing a photo shoot. Somebody else contacted them and said they could offer a doggy massage,” she added.
While Cloud’s former life was one of struggle, he was finally given safety, security, and love. So many dogs never got that chance, and Cloud was certainly one very lucky boy. Now, he was able to enjoy his new forever home more than anyone thought possible.
Cloud’s life was so rough before! Thank goodness that he finally got the help he deserved, even though it arrived a little late in the game. That doesn’t make it any less precious.