After 5 years chained to a doghouse, flat coated retriever needs a good home

My friend Jessica is the lady who rescued  Stella puppy from a pound in North Carolina and fostered her until we adopted her in June. Jessica has another foster who needs a home and I thought some of my friends could spread the word about him. Here’s all about him from Jessica, in her own words:

Eli is a flat-coated retriever, who was given to a family as a Christmas present 5 years ago. At first, life was great. He had two young boys to play with and a warm bed to sleep in at night. After a few weeks though, the excitement of a little puppy was starting to fade, and the responsibility of caring for and training a dog was starting to set in. The boys were no longer interested in their old best friend, and the parents couldn’t find time in their busy schedules to help either.

So Eli went outside, for good. They got him a short metal chain which they attached to an old, rotting dog house, far enough away from the house that he couldn’t be seen. And that is where Eli spent the next 5 years of his life.

Flat coated retriever rescue needs good home

Once a week he would excitedly greet whoever came to fill up his automatic feeder. After a quick pat on the head, it was right back to his life of complete solitude. Five frigid winters, and five hot summers passed as Eli sat, imprisoned by a chain, totally forgotten and alone.

Eli, chained to a doghouse 5 years.

Take a second to imagine the torture of not being able to move out of the same three foot area for five years, day in and day out. Think about the fear he must have felt when it stormed, or how cold he must have been when it snowed, how miserable he must have felt when the summer sun beat down on his black coat. No way to escape any of it, no way of removing the chain wrapped around his neck.

The most painful to think about is the loneliness and rejection he felt and how much his heart must have ached for the loving family he once had. After five years, many would have lost hope, some may have lost their minds from total boredom, others completely enraged at people for sticking him outside and never giving his existence a second thought.

Flat coated retriever rescue needs good home

Not Eli, he spent those five years saving up and conserving all the love he had, anxiously but patiently awaiting that one person who he could give it to. One person that would see him and believe he was worth bringing inside, who would comfort him during the storms, give him a warm bed to spend cold snowy nights, and most importantly someone he could love and who would love him too.

They say good things come to those who wait, and Eli’s patience paid off. One of the boys who had loved him for those few short weeks got married, and when his wife saw Eli, she decided that she would be the person who would finally help free him. She posted a desperate ad on Craigslist, hoping for a miracle.

I think I’m more of a sucker than a miracle because when I happened upon the ad, my heart sunk. It was 10 degrees outside and all I could think about was how cold and miserable this poor dog must be. When I went to sleep that night I looked at my two pit bulls, comfortably hogging the bed like usual, snoring loudly, happy, content and warm snuggled under the covers, the guilt was overwhelming. This is what every dog deserved, not just my own. I called the lady the next day and made the drive through the snow to West Virginia to save Eli.

I was greeted by a dirty, ratty black dog, with a huge smile and wagging tail. I knew immediately it was worth it. I took him to my moms where Eli made himself at home in one of her bedrooms, and made himself his own little den in the closet. That night, I slept much better, and so did Eli, warm and safe, finally.

Throughout the weeks he has shown the true heart of a rescue dog. He is loving, humble, grateful, and far more forgiving than he should be. He is working very hard to overcome his fears, which at first included the TV, garbage disposal, dryer, and many other normal household noises.

Some emotional scars from a life of such neglect are harder for him to work through. He still paces back and forth, especially when he is really happy, and we think this is a byproduct of being chained and not being able to move for so long. He is timid around men, not aggressive by any means, just a little scared and likes that he has his own closet to retreat into when the situation gets too overwhelming.

He also has anxiety about being outside alone, which is understandable. This is actually a positive however, because in his desperation to get back inside he does his business very quickly and comes right back to the door.

His fears are quickly being replaced, almost daily, by small victories. He has recently learned to play and received his very own stuffed animal for Christmas this year, which was the first ever he got to celebrate with a family. He is also learning the art of fetching tennis balls (He is a retriever after all!). Despite his fears of the outside he picked up potty training quickly as well and lets you know when he has to go.

He has been vaccinated and de-wormed and will be neutered in the next week or two. And despite needing a good teeth brushing, the vet said he was in excellent health. He also just got his first bath and after all the burrs and knots were removed, and the dirt of 5 years scrubbed off, his coat is now a shiny black and matches his inner beauty.

The only thing Eli is missing now is a family of his very own. He has made a wonderful foster dog, his gentle, calm, sweet nature has made it easy to fall in love with him. He loves people and craves attention, and going without for so long means he has a lot of catching up to do.

However, finding him a forever home will open the spot back up for my mom to take in a new foster, and save another life. There are 6 million pets euthanized every year in the United States, which means there is never a shortage of neglected dogs in desperate need of someone willing to give them a second chance.

Flat coated retriever rescue needs good home

Eli’s perfect home would be with a couple or woman-only home, whose lifestyle is a little slower speed. Being a little older and very low maintenance, he is content to lie at your feet, and merely be in your presence. He gets along with the other dogs at my mom’s but the boys tend to bully him a bit. Her little female pittie, Gracie, seems to have bonded with him the most, and he spends a lot of time just watching her, learning how to act.

He needs a family willing to give him the time he needs to adjust and will help him continue to overcome his fears. Most importantly, he needs a family who will shower him with the love and affection he deserves. In return, he will be the most loving, loyal dog on the planet. He will literally worship the ground you walk on. Dogs like Eli never forget what they came from, and he will thank you every day for giving him a chance.

If you think Eli may be the dog for you, or you have any questions please feel free to send me an email or call me! Thanks so much!


Please spread the word about Eli. What a sad thing for a social animal like a dog to be chained to a doghouse, alone, for so long. Dogs are pack animals and thrive on social interaction with other animals and, in their absence, their people.

I can give you Jessica’s contact info if you’d like to learn more about Eli.

15 thoughts on “After 5 years chained to a doghouse, flat coated retriever needs a good home

  1. my first dog was a black American cocker spaniel named “Eli”… I can’t look at any dog without seeing something of him in them too. I think that’s why I am addicted to cocker spaniels now. At least that is what my wife says.

    If I could make a living rescuing dogs and training them, I would. If I hear of anyone interested in a dog, I’ll let them know.

  2. Thanks, William. Just spread the word. He sounds like a sweet boy, and I know from how socialized Stella was that Jessica and her mom are working hard to help Eli become a great companion.

  3. Wow, what a heart wrenching story. If we could add another dog to our family, I’d be tempted. Poor Eli. What a crime to chain a dog on a short tether and only come out once a week to feed him. I think it should be illegal to do that and those people should have a private circle in hell for that behavior. After a few months, they should have given Eli away to someone who would have loved him properly during the bulk of those five years.

    We have a rescue dog, 7 and a half years it’s been now, and he still has a few issues from before we adopted him. But he is safe, has his own door, is loved immensely by his family, and is basicly very happy and healthy. He too loves the walk-in closet, knows it as his crate, but then transfers over to the big plushy dog bed next to our bed after about 30 minutes every night.

    Good luck with finding a home for Eli. He really deserves the very best!

  4. this is a heartbreak, i have just lost my flatcoat at the age of almost 9. he had lots of energy and we always took him to the park, lake, he loved hiking, loved the water and was the happiest when he went for his daily walks. these dogs need exercise , lots of attention, love. my flat coated retriever was the best dog i have ever owned. these dogs are the greatest and will love you forever.. has eli found a home yet??

  5. I am so sorry I didn’t see your comment until now. It was held up in the queue which checks for spam on my blog and I don’t receive notifications of those comments. I believe Eli may have a home, but I will check with my friend and find out for sure as he may just be in foster still. 🙂

  6. …And my heart hurts for you. Anyone who ever says, “it was just a dog” has no idea the depth of the pain we feel when we lose a beloved friend.

  7. Debra, my friend got back to me. She said the lady who fostered Eli fell in love with him and ended up keeping him. She said there’s no shortage of black dogs needing good homes; they are among the hardest to place. Have you looked at ?

  8. This story breaks my heart..I cannot understand why these people did not get charged with animal neglect. I hope Eli continues to improve! Any chance we could get an update?

  9. I don’t have any updates other than what I posted in the above comment. It sounds like he found a great home with the lady who fostered him. 🙂

  10. My girlfriend and I rescued a flat coat named Eli on October 15th, 2011 from CAHS – Lansing, MI. He looks very similar to the pictures you have posted and fits the personality description as well. When we adopted him they knew very little about his background. Can you confirm that the dog in your pictures is still with his family?

  11. I’m hoping Eli is still available. I had a flat coated retriever for 17 years and miss her so much. If Eli is still looking for the right home I’m here.

  12. Hi, Joe. I’m sorry to hear about your girl. Seventeen years is a long time to spend with a special dog, but still never long enough. Eli does have a home now. Have you looked up Flat Coated Retriever rescues? You might also search on for them.

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