In honor of Guard Dog, the formerly (!) chained dog in MUTTS, we're sharing happy stories about real-life rescue dogs. This story about a special heart dog named Coco comes from author (and friend of MUTTS) Glen David Gold.


By Glen David Gold

My Shiloh shepherd, Coco, was a dog that some breeders had, when she was too old for them, turned loose in a field in the desert somewhere. She had just arrived at Westside German Shepherd Rescue and they were still bathing her when I visited her for the first time. They guessed she was about four years old. But they didn't know much about her. I kept discovering things peculiar to a dog that had never been out of the house and what I'm guessing was a small back yard or run. Not quite Guard Dog's life, but close.

When I took her to the car for the first time, I opened the hatchback. She just stared. She'd never been in a car before. After I encouraged her to jump, she jumped over the gate and onto the roof of the car. When I got her home, I tried to get her onto the bed, but she wouldn't hear of it. She'd never had dog bed before, and I had to give her treats while she stood in one until she finally relaxed and realized she had something that was hers.

She'd never seen another dog before that wasn't a Shiloh shepherd. So she was VERY CONFUSED to see there were dogs that didn't look like her. And any dog that was smaller was clearly a puppy. Cat? Absolutely puppies. She fell in love with my spikey kitten Charlie and they were inseparable. She'd never seen a toy, and never really understood what they were for. The seven years I had her, she only barked twice.

But the biggest change for her was walks. No one had ever taken her on a walk before. The first couple, she didn't know she could leave the yard without coming back immediately. But then when she realized it was allowed, she could take in the whole world and it was a joy for her. There was a stream by our house and our walks always began and ended with her standing in it and having a very satisfying drink.

A few days after I got her, I tried to take her to a training class. I say "try" because when we arrived, and she saw all the other dogs, and heard the commands, she lay on her back on the floor, all four paws in the air. She refused to move. The trainer took the leash from me and worked with her for a few minutes. Then she refunded my money. "This dog was trained harshly — I don't think you can teach her anything new."

Well. Sort of. She was still able to amaze me. When I'd had her for about six years, one day we were walking down a country lane. The local utility had put up a series of road cones along the side of the road. When we walked past, Coco threaded through them.

I was so startled I stopped dead, and then I turned around and walked back the way we came. She threaded through the cones again. 

So consider this a vote for getting a dog with a past. They know stories, even if they can only tell them when you're paying close attention.

To learn more about Guard Dog and how you can help chained dogs, visit

Comments (7)

I’m so glad that Coco found you. Thank you for sharing your story. In many ways, rescues dogs rescue their new people too. Our rescue is Saydee, a long haired German Shepherd. She’s a former military working dog. We don’t know all of her past, except that she was a bomb/drug dog. We have learned her skills vicariously. No vehicle is safe from inspection. Balls and sticks, or any thrown toy is a grenade, or a weapon. She’ll watch it, note that it dropped and then look at us. It took us forever to get her to sleep on a dog bed too. However, she is the biggest fluffiest loving dog. She filled our hearts.

Jaye Sudar

Thank you Glen for giving Coco such a wonderful life. I always love hearing these stories and the message it carries: second chances are always possible. My dog, Okami is a fellow Westside alum. He’s been featured 3 times in the fundraising calendar so you may have seen him – he looks a lot like a Shiloh but appears to be a long-haired Shepherd-Malumute cross. We live in Tofino, BC. Erin

Erin Linn McMullan

Your life with Coco, who was so disadvantaged before you adopted her, fills my heart with joy. I get such a kick out of hearing rescue stories and how stunned the dogs were until they realized that they now had a whole different, much better, life. I hear so many sad stories, stories that make me feel white hot anger at the perpetrators of cruelty and neglect. It’s lovely and a great relief to hear about your Coco. I’ve had dogs of my own since I was a young adult, and many of them were rescues. My greatest happiness is giving them joy.

Thank you for telling Coco’s story. Give her a tummy rub for me, if she likes them.

Soozi Urang

Thank you for loving Coco. I am a volunteer rescue animal transporter – When dogs are being moved from overpopulated areas to areas where they’ll get adopted, etc. We get a LOT of “breeder releases” who have no idea how to be a dog. I have cried and cried over some of them. There have been dogs that have come on transport without even a collar. I keep a bag of collars in my transport bag so I can give them one. Some dogs I have sent a blanket with, so they had something that was their own perhaps for the first time, or at least the first time in a very long time.

Penny Graham

Great story! I’ve had German Shepherds all of my life – some rescues, some not – but they never cease to amaze me. Your Coco sounds like my Rocky – amazing dog taken from me way too early in his life due to cancer. Once you get a great one they never leave you.

Don Kaminski

Such a Blessing ♡

Kathleen Lechner

What a wonderful story – thank you for sharing it!! I have been fortunate to own many rescue dogs – most with issues which needed to be resolved over time. But they have all been great dogs - large and small- who needed and deserved time, attention and love. One of my most recent rescues – an 18 pound terrier mix scruffer throwaway rescue found in a Houston park – is now a Certified Therapy dog. A real “people dog” – who knew it could be fun to go to nursing home??

Constance Moore