Chi Chi the golden retriever escaped the dog meat trade and has had all four of her legs amputated, but she now dedicates her life to helping others as a therapy dog.
The 3-year-old pup that rescued from a dumpster in South Korea spends her days visiting with amputees, veterans, nursing home patients, people with Alzheimer’s and children with autism, all with the hope of brightening their day.
"She impacts people in different ways based on where they’re at,” her owner, Elizabeth Howell of Phoenix, Ariz., told InsideEdition.com. "There’s compassion, there’s understanding. There’s this desire to never give up and I think that’s how she lives her life every day."
She said she believes Chi Chi’s horrific past helps her be a better therapy dog today.
The poor pup was discovered in a dumpster in South Korea with wires wrapped tightly around her four legs, Howell said. The wires wore down to the bone on some parts, and caused necrosis on her flesh.
A rescue group originally wanted to euthanize the pup due to the extent of her injuries, but decided to instead transport her to a veterinarian five hours away for surgery.
“She was in horrible condition, but she was wagging her tail and leaning forward [to be pet by] them,” Howell explained. “She had this sweet, loving disposition. She was different. They decided to save her.”
Veterinarians decided the only way to save her life was to amputate all four of her legs.
As rescuers reached out to American based organizations to see if Chi Chi could be adopted abroad, Howell said the pup immediately stole her heart because of her positive attitude.
“When she first arrived in our home and joined our family, she was definitely still afraid of people and she was very careful with her interactions with people,” Howell explained. “But it didn’t take long for her to realize she was safe now and we were going to protect her. She’s left all of that in the past. She’s forgiven, and it’s done.”
Chi Chi now gets around the Howells’ home using her prosthetics that are modeled shorter than an average golden retriever’s legs due to how much of her legs were amputated.
Howell explained that every morning, her husband carries her downstairs and puts on her prosthetics.
Sometimes, they help Chi Chi remove them in the afternoon to give her a break from the sores they can cause, but often they leave the four prosthetic legs on until she goes to sleep at night.
“She’s a transformed dog,” Howell said. “It’s amazing to think what awful things people did to her and now she loves being around people and sharing her joy.”