Ariel Van Pelt would often wonder about the dog on the other side of her neighbor's fence. She never seemed to leave the yard. Sometimes, Van Pelt would hear her barking. But she never saw her.
So one day, Van Pelt asked her neighbor about the dog named Daisy.
"Do you want her?" the neighbor asked almost immediately. "I'm either going to drop her off at the park. Or I'm going to take her to the shelter."
It turned out, the neighbor's son bought the dog from a breeder when she was just a puppy. Then he dumped her at his mother's house. It had been two years, and Daisy never left the yard even once.
Van Pelt finally got a closer look at her.
Daisy was suffering from sarcoptic mange, an extremely painful condition caused by mites burrowing under her skin.
"I just said, 'Fuck it,' and took her to a vet," Van Pelt tells The Dodo.
First, however, she had to get Daisy out of the yard.
"I had to pick her up and carry her because she was too scared to leave the yard," she said.
And a leash? Daisy knew nothing about that either.
Then there was the most pressing problem of all.
For a dog starved so long of human contact, Daisy's condition must have seemed the cruelest of jokes.
Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious, making her practically untouchable. In fact, when Van Pelt handled Daisy, she had to wear a kind of suburban version of a hazmat suit: Long sleeves and pajama pants.
Daisy had to be put in isolated boarding, a costly proposition. But for two months, Van Pelt saw to the dog's slow, steady recovery. She and her friends would visit Daisy every Saturday, making sure the dog, even inside a kennel built for one, knew that she wasn't entirely alone.
By the time a foster family was found for Daisy, the mange had completely cleared up, while Van Pelt was nearly $3,000 in credit card debt.
But at the time, that hardly mattered to Van Pelt, who witnessed the emergence of a silly, beautiful, belly-rub-loving dog - the dog Daisy was always meant to be.
"She's really resilient," Van Pelt says. "Despite all the stuff that's happened to her, she's just so, so cuddly and sweet."
By then, it was easy for a dog like Daisy to quickly find a foster family. Van Pelt says the people who took in Daisy fell in love from the start. The feeling was mutual.
"I think she's relaxed and coming more out of her shell," she says. "But she's still very quiet. She lays on the couch all day and cuddles and follows them around."
Ariel Van Pelt
But her foster family in Los Angeles can only keep Daisy for a short time. She's going to need to find other good people soon.
Considering how far she's come already, it's hard to bet against Daisy finding that home.
So far, her life has been a series of breakouts. First, she had to break out of the prison that was her own diseased body. Then the yard she could never leave. And finally, she has emerged from her shell.
All thanks to someone who cared enough to see a dog on the other side of the fence. And do something about it.
Now, she's waiting for someone to take her on the best step of her journey - a real home.