She was left for dead in a South Korean dumpster, her legs bound and rotting, most likely a victim of the dog meat trade.
The golden retriever was rescued, and underwent a quadruple amputation to remove eight to 10 inches from each leg. Four years later, she walks with specially designed prostheses and has just been named the most heroic dog of 2018.
At the Hero Dog Awards in Beverly Hills, she rocked the red carpet with a sparkling collar and rhinestones on her artificial feet. "She was really in her element," her human mom, Elizabeth Howell, told InsideEdition.com. "She had a great time."
Chi Chi has a great time every day. Despite the pain and struggle of losing all of her limbs, nearly dying and being transported halfway around the world, she has adapted with grace to her new life in Arizona, where she lives with Howell, her husband Richard and three other rescue dogs.
Her prostheses — individually suited to each leg — are designed by Derrick Campana of Animal Ortho Care, which fashions prostheses for animals of all shapes and sizes.
"She only wears them during the day, so we put them on in the morning ... and then we take them off at night," Howell said.
Like humans with amputated limbs, Chi Chi needs a break from her artificial legs to prevent soreness and abrasions.
"Sometimes, if she has a lot of activity during the day, we might take them off and let her rest without them," she added.
Chi Chi has a lot of busy days. She is now a certified therapy dog, and she travels with her human parents to health and social care centers. They go to VA hospitals, senior living centers, Alzheimer wards and rehab facilities.
Sometimes, she meets humans who are a lot like her — missing one, or several, limbs.
Seeing Chi Chi and witnessing firsthand her wagging tail and sweet disposition, inspires others to soldier on, despite their limitations, Howell said.
People with amputations "see how she is getting along [and] how to motivate themselves with their new lives."
The dog came to live with the Howells in March 2016. She was a little skittish at first, but with time she learned to trust people again. "A huge part of Chi Chi's story is her ability to learn and forgive," Howell said. The dog has a very big heart, and has a lot of love to share, her parents said.
She does, however, have two huge fears: lightning and thunder. Like many dogs, both will send her in search of "a place that is dark and hidden away" where she can ride out the storm.
Howell first saw Chi Chi in a video posted by a rescue organization in Los Angeles. "We didn't know what had happened to her or what her prognosis was," she said.
It didn't matter. The Howells were smitten. They applied to adopt her, and the rescue group drove the dog to their home in Phoenix.
"I just fell in love with her sweet face and her loving eyes," Howell said. "We wanted go give her the best life possible."
To learn more about Chi Chi, click here.