7 min read

Starving Dog Found Alone On Street Looks Completely Different Now

“My mom would probably sit with her for three hours on the couch each day, just petting her and showing her that it was OK, and that she was in a good place now.”

If help hadn’t come, the dog would have died. She likely would have only lasted another two days, according to the people who helped rescue her.

“She could barely stand,” Mollie Shealy, the dog’s foster mom, told The Dodo. “Her back hind legs were almost in a squatting position. Every time we touched her, we felt a bone because of how skinny she was. But she just cowered around with her head down.”

Emaciated dog on road
Gracie when she was found on the road last November | Canine Compassion Fund

Last November, a road worker found the emaciated dog, now named Gracie, near a patch of woods in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “She apparently came running out of the woods and went up to him,” Shealy said.

While no one really knows how Gracie ended up alone in the woods, Shealy has a theory.

“More than likely, Gracie was bred to be a hunting dog, but she didn’t do the caliber of hunting that they wanted,” Shealy said. “So they either cut her off the leash or left her in the middle of the woods, and probably planned for her not to survive.”

Emaciated, sad-looking dog on leash
Gracie was still quite emaciated and scared when she arrived at Shealy's home for foster care. | Mollie Shealy

But somehow, Gracie did survive.

The road worker got in touch with Canine Compassion Fund, a local animal welfare organization, and someone from the group picked up Gracie and rushed her to the vet. Then the rescue group arranged for Shealy and her mother Marlene to foster Gracie.

At first, Gracie was terrified of everything and everyone, including Shealy and her mom.

Dog lying on blanket inside house
Gracie while in foster care with Shealy and her mother | Mollie Shealy

“The first week was kind of rough,” Shealy said. “She was depressed and kind of wandered around, and didn’t really know what the deal was.”

Their main concern was Gracie’s weight. She only weighed about 20 pounds, when she should have been about 40.

Dog dressed up in Christmas outfit
Mollie Shealy

“We were feeding her anywhere from five to six meals a day,” Shealy said. “Just very small portions. She was so hungry that she devoured it.”

Little by little, Gracie gained the weight she needed — and with that, she gained confidence.

Woman cuddling happy looking dog
Shealy's mom cuddling Gracie on the couch | Mollie Shealy

“My mom would probably sit with her for three hours on the couch each day, just petting her and showing her that it was OK, and that she was in a good place now,” Shealy said.  

Another thing Gracie had to learn was how to play. At first, she didn’t know what to do when Shealy showed her dog toys. But one toy eventually grabbed her interest — a duck puppet.

Dog playing with toys on the carpet
Gracie playing with one of her dog toys while in foster care | Mollie Shealy

“She went wild for it,” Shealy said. “It was like a switch flipped in her personality. Ever since then, she’s been full on.”

Now Gracie loves every toy she can get her muzzle on. “She’s a goofy dog who loves to play,” Shealy said. “We have all her toys in a box, and she’ll get them out and line them up and give each toy like two or three bites. She’ll run them up to you, and she’ll play tug-of-war.”

Dog leaning on dash board in car
Mollie Shealy

“She’s turned out to be a great dog,” Shealy added. “It’s taken time and patience, but she can sit now, she goes great on the leash, she eats two or three meals a day. She probably gained about 10 to 12 pounds, which is what she needed. She could barely stand when we first got her, so just her improvement is incredible. And her personality has come out, and we’ve just loved having her.”

Dog lying back on woman on couch
Mollie Shealy

Once Gracie has gained a bit more weight, she’ll start treatment for another medical issue — heartworm disease. During this process, she’ll continue to stay with Shealy and her mom.

But once she’s made a full recovery, Gracie will be up for adoption — and Shealy is sure she’ll make the perfect family member for someone.

Dog lying on back while cuddling
Mollie Shealy

“She’s just so thankful to be with people and to be loved and to have the fun that she has,” Shealy said. “I think because all that she’s been through, and all the loyalty and thankfulness that she had. You let her out of her kennel in the morning [and] she runs out, she hops up on the couch. She licks your face, and she’ll nuzzle her head into your neck.”

“She knows the value of the relationship that she has with me and my mom,” Shealy added. “And it’s been really great being able to rehabilitate her to a state where she can be adopted.”

Dog lying on her back
Mollie Shealy
If you’re interested in adopting Gracie, you can contact the Canine Compassion Fund.

Thinking about adopting? Then meet Dodo Adoptbot, an interactive guide for new pet parents. Get started on Facebook Messenger or text HOME to 38349.