Peanut is a three-year-old mixed breed whose entire short life was lived at the end of an even shorter chain. As a puppy, he was given a home by a Pennsylvanian couple, but that home didn't include being part of the family. Instead, Peanut was chained outside in the yard, a heavy collar around his neck. His only shelter was a rotting wooden doghouse, and he spent his days depressed and separated from any companionship.
Then everything changed for Peanut when some people in his neighborhood found out about his living conditions. The police were called, but they could do nothing for the dog. One neighbor contacted the Hope for Erie Animal Wellness rescue, and one of the volunteers knew that her mother, Russelline Steinbuhler, was just the person to help Peanut out.
My daughter volunteers with HOPE, and they got a lot of calls about this dog, but it’s too far for them to go. They're about an hour away, and nobody could make the commitment to get to that dog all the time," Steinbuhler explained. Because she lived nearby, Steinbuhler drove to Peanut's home, saw his situation, and decided she needed to get involved.
Peanut's owners were receptive to Steinbuhler's offers to work with Peanut. "I went out and took a look. Peanut had a dilapidated doghouse. The roof had holes in it. The floor was rotted out. He didn’t have much to shelter him, and we had a really wet spring. He was laying in water because he couldn’t get out of it. I love animals, so I said, ‘I’ll take care of the dog. I’ll spend time with him.’ And I did," she said.
Steinbuhler noted that Peanut's owners did not separate him from their home out of any malicious intent, but more because they thought that was the way to own a dog. "A lot of people in this country grew up with dogs on chains. Especially in rural areas. It’s passed down still," Steinbuhler stated. "Not everybody has decided that it’s better to have dogs inside."
With the rescue's assistance, Steinbuhler went to work building a new doghouse for Peanut. She purchased him a new collar and long leash so that Peanut could move far enough to touch the grass in the yard.
Once Peanut's physical situation was improved, Steinbuhler began to work on teaching Peanut to interact with people. "I made a point to go out there several times a week. Sometimes seven days a week," Steinbuhler said. "I’d show up and spend a half hour with this dog. When you first start showing up, he was so overexcited about somebody acknowledging him. He wanted to jump on everybody. Nobody spent any time with him. I would show up with treats and make him sit to get pet. He was a fast learner. He’s smart. We just started doing some obedience stuff. We’d play games. He loved playing fetch."
When Steinbuhler explained that a new Pennsylvania law that just went into effect limited the amount of time that a dog could be tethered outside,
Peanut's owners agreed to surrender him to the rescue. Steinbuhler gave Peanut his "freedom ride" straight to a grooming and dog care facility for a full bath --- maybe the first he'd ever had.
But the best was saved for last. Steinbuhler took Peanut to the fenced-in play yard in the back of the facility. For the first time in his life, Peanut was let off leash, and he took full advantage of it! This dog ran around the yard in pure joy, feeling the blades of grass beneath his paws and the wind racing through his fur. Watch Peanut run for the first time!
"I cried. That was really emotional to me," Steinbuhler said. "This dog never got to run. The owner told me she’d never seen him run in three years. Imagine never being able to run. When I let him loose, he was so joyful. He did the zoomies."
Peanut is being fostered by Steinbuhler until the right adopter comes along to give this now-socialized pup the perfect home.
Steinbuhler hopes that Peanut's situation will call attention to more dogs around the country who live their lives at the end of a chain.
"Peanut's owner loved him enough to let him go. There’s something to be said for that," Steinbuhler said. "But I know there are a lot more chained dogs out there,
and I hope the country wakes up. Think about living your whole life on a chain. That’s not a way for them to live. Get them off the leash and spend time with them and they’ll be happy."
As for Peanut, he is awaiting his forever home. Could you be the right person for Peanut?
Contact Hope for Erie Animal Wellness for more information about this beautiful dog. Let's get him the family he deserves! Please share his important story with your friends and family on Facebook.