6 min read

Dog Left Chained To Fire Hydrant Is Finally Learning To Be Herself

"She ran and she ran and she picked up sticks. We learned that she's maybe not a bad dog at all."

There's something about China that won't let Harriet Zucker give up on her.

It doesn't matter what others say about the troubled dog, or even what Zucker, founder of Red Hook Dog Rescue, has seen with her own eyes. Like how angry China gets in a crate.

Make no mistake: China has real issues. In fact, she was nearly euthanized three times.

"If you approach her cage, she'll go ballistic," Zucker tells The Dodo. "She can't be crated."

Even if she does, sometimes, calm down.

China dog
Red Hook Dog Rescue

Other dogs? She's not ready yet. Cats? No chance.

So why make such an effort to work through this dog's troubles and find her a very, very specific home?

"I like her," Zucker simply says. I see something in her."

Probably because Zucker has seen something else with her own eyes. When she brought China to a training facility in Vermont - basically, just putting down the crate at a rural boarding facility and getting out of the way - a different dog emerged.

Think ball of energy.

dog running with cow
Red Hook Dog Rescue

"She ran and she ran and she picked up sticks and played with them," Zucker says.

And she showed a downright dog-like obsession with balls.

dog with toys
Red Hook Dog Rescue

It makes Zucker just want to try. Because somewhere under all those stony layers - an avalanche of heartache, betrayal and abandonment - there's a dog looking for a chance to shine.

"She probably lived in the same place forever," Zucker says. "She probably had never met other dogs, and very few people."

And, at just a couple years old, China hasn't had much of a chance to do that.

dog tied to fire hydrant in Queens New York
Red Hook Dog Rescue

She was found last July tied to a fire hydrant in Queens, New York. The dog was so ornery, people wouldn't get close to her. Finally, an animal control officer brought her to the Animal Care Centers of New York - using a very long pole.

"At the shelter, it was the same story," Zucker says. "She did poorly in a cage."

China was inches from being euthanized at the shelter, when Zucker arrived and decided to take a chance on her. She didn't exactly impress her new handlers. On several occasions, even Zucker was close to having China put down. But then, China would offer a glimpse of what she could be.

"She's so gentle when she takes treats," Zucker says.

China recently bonded hard with the man who's taking care of her at a kennel in Long Island. She met a cow for the first time. And an emu at a sanctuary in Vermont.

"She is not a fan," Zucker notes. "But curious."

Dog looking at emu
Red Hook Dog Rescue

She also loves car rides, which makes Zucker wonder if she would make a perfect sidekick for a truck driver.

"We learned that she's maybe not a bad dog at all," Zucker adds.

And that there are no bad dogs. Just very bad beginnings.

Red Hook Dog Rescue

Not everyone can hear a cry for help amid the growling and barking. But Zucker did. And now, she's committed to taking China on this long journey - a road that's paved with training and more training - until she finally finds just the right home for her.

For now, China is looking for a foster home - somewhere in New York state, where she can be the only pet in the home. No cats. No crates. Just patience.

And eventually, the dog who's been pent up in her own skin will finally come out. And play.

dog with toy
Red Hook Dog Rescue

Think that might be you? Send an email to rhdrdogs@gmail.com.

You can also support Red Hook Rescue in its mission to give a real chance to even the most challenging dogs by making a donation through the group's Facebook page.