He has practically no hair, his ears are oddly shaped and his eyes rather narrow. Yet somehow Chupey always looks cheerful. The brown pup was born with a defect that left him with a permanent grin on his face so it’s there even when he’s distressed. Luckily, his owner tells YOU, Chupey is generally a happy pooch. “He always wants to be part of what you’re doing and does a little shimmy dance when he’s excited,” Kayley Mitchell says.
Kayley (28) rescued Chupey, a pit bull and rottweiler cross, in October last year, about a year after he was born. She works as a radiation therapist but has also been managing her own animal shelter called the Kaley Carlyle Animal Connection, in Georgia in the US, for the past five years.
“My passion has always been animals,” she says. “After I lost one of my dogs, Dempsey, I was inspired to start rescuing. “ What keeps me going, despite the extremely sad or disheartening things I sometimes see, are the happy stories. When I can help an animal that no one else wanted at the time and see them become a beloved family pet, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Kaley’s shelter is quite small, so during the day when she’s at work, someone comes to feed the dogs and let’s them go outside to play and do their business. She also has a camera system in place so she can check on them whenever she wants to.
She crossed paths with Chupey when a former client brought him, and the litter he was born with, to her shelter. Two of them were perfectly healthy but one seemed odd and looked a bit like a wolf, Kayley explains. “I made a deal with the lady – if she spayed the litter’s mom, in turn I’d take in the puppy that was different to the others. That was Chupey.”
It wasm’t smooth-sailing in the beginning for Kayley and the pup. She feared she might have to have him put down due to his frail condition. Chupey lacked proper nutrition during the first year of his life. He had fleas and several gashes on his neck and ears because two adult dogs played tug of war using him as their rope.
“My first impression was a little bit of shock. I’d never seen a dog like him.” Kayley immediately took Chupey to the vet where they discovered he was suffering from serious liver problems. This left him extremely exhausted and he often slept for up to 23 hours a day. “I’ve had many, many puppies that I’ve rescued and fostered, but I’d never seen one that slept like him,” Kayley continues. “That’s one reason I was worried about his health.”
But since he’s joined her he’s been on the mend and is getting stronger by the day. He eats special food for his liver and Kayley ensures he doesn’t overexert himself. “Now that he’s on the right food he’s like any other normal dog. Before, he would play and then pass out for hours at a time afterwards.
“But now he sleeps and plays and cuddles and loves and barks and chews – just like every dog should.” Chupey, now almost two years old, has also become quite the social media star. He boasts more than 13 000 followers on Instagram, regularly entertaining his followers with adorable videos and cheeky snaps.
He now weighs a healthier 15kg and he’s a far cry from the feeble puppy he once was. But this doesn’t mean he’s completely out of the woods. He still has a few health issues that require special attention. Kayley recently had a DNA test done and the geneticist determined Chupey is suffering from a type of alopecia (hair loss) which has resulted from allergies.
Due to his lack of fur, Chupey always wears sunscreen when he plays outside, especially on the flat part of his ears. In winter he wears coats, sweatshirts and pyjamas to keep warm. “His lack of fur really hasn’t bothered him very much,” she says.
“Although I will say it likely plays a role in why he’s so snuggly and wants so badly to get under the blankets, even during warmer weather.” Chupey is also something of a social butterfly and makes friends easily – but his friendly nature isn’t always appreciated. “Often Chupey’s excitable greetings are what turn shyer dogs away from him.
He often desperately wants to play and will get up next to his intended target and bark and bark. But he doesn’t realise that this often makes them want to play less.” Kayley’s other pets include two Jack Russell mixes named Tempest and Kipling and she also has an English bulldog named Bailey. They’re rescue dogs, and all the other dogs she’s taken in, have been adopted.
Images of Chupey have been making their way around the web and he’s come a long way since he was first brought to Kayley’s home. He’s no longer malnourished and Kayley wouldn’t change a thing about how things have unfolded for them. In fact, she hopes her story will inspire others to take in a dog that desperately needs a home.
“I think people need to look at the dogs that aren’t as beautiful and striking as the rest and give special-needs dogs a chance. I hope I can encourage people to look at dogs differently and understand that personality is more important than looks.” And with Chupey, that certainly is the case.