Shaggy, Underweight Stray Found Wandering the Streets Becomes 'Queen of All She Surveys'

Shaggy, Underweight Stray Found Wandering the Streets Becomes 'Queen of All She Surveys'

The following story is a finalist in the Rescue to Royalty Challenge. Three grand prize winners will receive a $250 shopping spree, while a shelter of their choosing will be awarded $2,000 in cash and needed supplies! You can vote for your favorite story here through May 8!

Toby had been Jim’s soulmate for 12-and-a-half years, and her departure had devastated us. He didn’t even want to think about another dog. I, on the other hand, could think of little else—Toby had taught me, the previously dog-clueless one, that only another canine could fill the huge vast void she had left behind.

A month after we lost her, our vet called to say that a small terrier mix, maybe a year old, had been picked up a few days before wandering the streets and was at the city pound. In two days, if no one claimed her, she’d be put up for adoption - what did we think? Well, I knew what I thought, and told Jim I’d go check her out, knowing full well that unless she was Little Cujo, she’d be coming home. I was supposed to be just looking, but you know how that goes.


I have no photo of her from that meeting but imagine it: she was sand colored, so overgrown shaggy that her eyes weren’t visible, so unkempt and matted under that abundant flea-infested dirty coat that a bath and major shearing were in order. She was unspayed. Basically, thoroughly neglected - but cute and friendly, and she was mine. We picked her up the next day.

Jim had expected to meet a small woolly fluffball, but a plucked chicken was awaiting us, coat thoroughly washed and trimmed to the nub. What to name her? She was a scrawny little underweight 15-pound girl, something cute would do - Cookie? Cokie? Honey? Sugar? All too syrupy. Ah - Evie! Toby’s beloved sitter, retired but still dog besotted. It fit perfectly, short and sweet but with some substance, and human Evie was thrilled to have a canine namesake.

Surprise! Upon arriving home, the chicken went straight for the corner of the kitchen and peed. What was this? We’d been so used to Toby’s intelligence and fastidiousness. So we worked diligently to train Evie, countless trips outside that winter, getting her to understand that the living room rug was part of the journey but not the destination, that the great outdoors had a purpose beyond greeting everyone who walked by.


A year old and not housebroken was the first of many surprises. She was frightened of being picked up, of brooms, of men wearing baseball caps, of the sounds made when big trucks reversed, of ATM machines. But eventually she learned from Joe the mailman that men in caps could be friends, that she could entertain Jim by walking on his back without punishment, that meals were a daily occurrence and not table scrap afterthoughts. She even allowed strangers to scratch that blissful spot near her tail. The chicken filled out and grew into a showstopping beauty with her peachy buff coat and apple cheeks, a social butterfly, looking very like a Lhasa Apso, though we never did a background check. Strangers would stop to ask us what special breed she was and where did we get her? They were shocked to hear that she was a mongrel jailbird, sprung with a $100 adoption fee. Children thought Evie was a soft stuffed toy come to life.

Evie’s new role as queen of all she surveyed included daily walks and play, dog meetups, expert groomings, trips to Maine, moves from New England to the Midwest and back somewhat east again. Evie, the eternally cheerful, adaptable socialite that she was, changed residences seamlessly, collected devotees in three states, had stories published about her, and ruled benevolently over her vast realm. And she expected royal treatment. She’d enjoy mini homemade pizzas and tastes of filet and a special Sunday morning egg breakfast at home, in Maine she shared bites of lobster with us, and we’d drive the 10 miles each morning from our secluded cottage so she could walk the streets of Ellsworth and greet her admiring public.


Dementia interfered with the last two years of Evie’s blessedly long life, but she remained her joyful beautiful self for all the 16 years we shared. Our little girl taught us that aristocrats sit hidden in shelters, just waiting to give and receive the abundance of the love and attention that will unveil their royal identities.

This story was submitted by Patricia Conway in support of Northeast Animal Shelter. You can read more Rescue to Royalty Challenge stories and vote for your favorite here!

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