Two years ago, a mangy pup was found walking along a rural Tennessee road, his thick, white fur was matted and dirty. Someone took pity on the sad-looking Bichon, picked him up and brought him to a shelter.
The dog, now known as Keeto, was an incessant barker. He just wouldn’t stop. He barked so much he was considered to be an undesirable dog, one that would never be adopted. Two months into his stay his euthanization date was set.
“He had an angel that day,” Kristi Heaton, Keeto’s co-owner for 2 years, said this week.
The day he was to have been put to sleep, a receptionist at the shelter took him home. She wanted to work with him, to make him adoptable. The woman gave Keeto enough time to be noticed by the Good Dog Rescue group in Enfield and the rest is history.
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Last week, Keeto Fellagucci was voted as in the first round of the Connecticut Patch Top Dog contest.
“We’re so thrilled, he’s so thrilled,” Heaton said, adding that the pup has gone from rescue dog to top dog in two years.
“He’s a really cool dog,” co-owner Elizabeth Heelan said.
Heelan and Heaton found Keeto (named after Quito, Ecuador, a place they’d like to travel someday) on PetFinder.com. They then contacted Good Dog Rescue, worked through the adoption process and within months found themselves standing in a parking lot in Glastonbury with more than 100 other people waiting for their dog to be brought to them from Tennessee.
Keeto was one of dozens of dogs being trucked up from the Deep South to New England where they had a better chance of being adopted, Heaton said. She added that by going through this process she was able to learn about Keeto before his arrival because she had access to the foster moms who had been caring for him.
When they found Keeto, Heaton and Heelan had lost two dogs in one summer and longed for new canine companionship. Heaton fell for Keeto through pictures and because of his hard luck story.
“He is such a joy and well worth the wait,” she said earlier this week.
Over the past two years they’ve learned even more, including his likes: nearly all people, camping, the Coventry Farmers’ Market and stuffed animals; and his favorite treats: lettuce and apples, without the peel.
They’ve also learned that Keeto still has a serious case of separation anxiety, which created a big adjustment period for the dog and his new owners. To help with this, on the days that they’re not home Keeto goes to Camp Bow Wow in South Windsor.
“He’s a special little boy and I’m so glad that someone invested in him,” Heaton said.