Chessa, Mutt & Jeff

For all of us in rescue, we have one wish: For each dog to get to live their best life, happily ever after. There are a few dogs who passed this year that we wanted to take a moment to share their rescue story.


Chessa came into rescue in February of 2018, when an animal control officer in Georgia reached out to National Great Pyrenees Rescue. Chessa was truly feral, having lived the first two years of her life as a stray, and was going to be euthanized the next day. We knew we had to help her, although she appeared to be more Maremma than Pyr. After a long transport, Chessa came to live at NGPR’s kennel in Springfield, OH, where she would spend the next two and a half years. We always hoped she would progress enough to be adopted but the path was longer and harder than anyone could have predicted.

At the kennel, Chessa learned people were not all that bad, and in fact were quite interesting and entertaining. She wasn't resistent to training; she just wanted to do it her way. She developed a pattern when she thought someone was going to touch her and would keep her eye on you, then would back up a few steps and sit down. Every time she sat down, it was an opportunity to tell her to "sit" when her butt made contact with the floor, then toss a treat in her direction and walk away. This is the closest she got to mastering any commands.

She was innately compassionate, and gave herself the job of comforting the many other dogs that came through the kennel (and keeping them in line when they needed it!). In February of this year, Chessa was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney failure, and in July she was in Stage 4, the end stage of kidney disease. It seemed that Chessa’s happy ever after was out of reach. But in September, Chessa found her forever family. A peaceful place where she could have plenty of space and freedom, and her best friend from the kennel was welcome too! In her new home, she loved to watch the sunrise each morning, spend afternoons laying in the sun and hanging out with her doggie pals, and watching the sunset over the hills in the evening. While her time there was shorter than we wished, she spent her last months with a family, where she was happy, loved and treasured.

Mutt and Jeff

The calls started coming late 2015 to Ohio’s Morrow County Humane Society. Passersby noticed a farm where a large number of Great Pyrenees—none in good condition—were running loose. Calls for help brought HS representatives to the farm, who, through sensitive negotiations, convinced the owner of the 11 Great Pyrenees to surrender seven. By this time, the news media had caught the story, and dubbed the group “The Ohio 7” and people were already following on social media.

NGPR agreed to take Jeff into rescue. He was completely feral, severely underweight at 80 pounds, riddled with infections, and suffering from a terrible case of sarcoptic mange. He had never felt a leash, never been in a house, most likely never felt a human touch.

The transfer was scheduled for January 9, 2016. It was no cakewalk. Capturing Jeff took 3 volunteers using a catchpole, who “herded” him—backwards—into a crate. Jeff was immediately taken into quarantine to treat his mange. Luckily, Steve Kalko, an NGPR Ohio volunteer was Jeff’s first contact. Steve visited Jeff 2-3 times a day. Jeff was so terrified he’d immediately run to the opposite side of his kennel. Steve fell in love and made Jeff a promise that the day he could walk on lead to his car would be the day he would come home with Steve. Steve decided always to let Jeff tell him when to try a new tactic, knowing dogs will talk to you if you listen with your heart instead of your ears.

So, Steve decided to take it down a notch; he’d lie down in Jeff’s kennel just to be with him. After days of just chilling, it worked! Jeff started progressing to the point where he could walk on lead to the front door. It was time, so Jeff left the kennel to begin his new life. Miraculously, Jeff began to gain weight, grow his coat back, and learn—at last—what it means to be a dog.

Enter Greg Roy who had been following Jeff’s story on social media. Greg, who had adopted before from Mid-South Great Pyrenees Rescue, asked to meet Jeff. Again, it was no cakewalk. But Greg is not a quitter. Through persistence, love, and lots of patience, within two weeks Jeff bonded with Greg. It was a match.

But what about poor Mutt? Ten months later, Mutt had returned and his owners finally agreed to surrender him. Mutt was in bad shape, with the same skin conditions and also very underweight. The shelter reached out to NGPR, and one of our volunteers rushed out to pick him up. After Mutt received much needed medical care, he was reunited with his brother Jeff when he was adopted by Jeff’s dad. The two brothers who had been so neglected, now lived life as pampered Pyrs. Jeff even won NGPR’s Top Dog Calendar Cover contest in 2017! Sadly, both Mutt and Jeff passed away this year, but they lived their last four years of life together as beloved pets, where they were happy and cared for every day.

To all of you who rescue, thank you for giving a dog a chance to live their very best life, happily ever after!