By: Tammy Allison – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Ben Rupp of Wauseon, the owner of a beautiful furry Chow named Chen, never considered himself a dog lover. While he now adores Chen who joined the family in 2012, this story really begins in 2000, when a persistent chow mix showed up at the office of his business near the Fulton County Airport. Ben guessed the dog to be less than a year old and probably dropped off by someone since his business is near the dog pound. He shooed the dog away that first night only to find the dog there at 6:30 the next morning. The dog, who he decided could stay, was named “Goldie” after an employee who died at the shop of a massive heart attack only a day before the dog first appeared.
At the time, Lifeflight leased the building where Ben’s business was located. Every day, Goldie would stay with Ben during the day while he worked, even lying down in the sawdust of the wood used to make cabinetry. At nights, Goldie would stay with the Lifeflight employees. Goldie became the mascot of Lifeflight and even made the annual calendar. Then in June 2012, as all dog owners would understand, Ben experienced the heartache of losing Goldie due to failing health.
A few months later, Ben and wife Carol decided they wanted another dog, and more specifically a Chow like Goldie. They enlisted the help of petfinder.com and were led to a Chow Rescue organization in Atlanta, Georgia called Chap’s Chow Rescue. This organization was started by a man named Mike Chapman, a retired military man with a passion for Chows. The Rupps saw a photo of Chen pop up, and they inquired for more information.
It turns out, they discovered, that Chen was no ordinary dog. For three years, Chen had been a determined dog, alone, waiting, and on the run. Abandoned by his family, Chen returned daily to the home waiting for his family to return. It is thought that he probably survived off scraps from a nearby Kroger dumpster. Neighborhood children threw rocks at him, but he still returned daily. A woman named Liza who fosters Chows found about Chen and made it her mission to rescue him. Chen was elusive, though, and it took her a few months to find him and then coax him to her.
The Rupps worked with Liza towards bringing Chen home to Ohio. Ben would text her once a day, and she would send pictures. Then in November 2012, arrangements were made for his brother Perry to fly them to Atlanta to meet Chen in person. It was a bittersweet good-bye for Liza who was happy to see Chen leaving for a good home, but sad as she had grown attached to the loving animal.
Ben says it has probably taken about a year for Chen to feel comfortable. They lovingly refer to him as their “giant housecat.” The docile Chow has come a long way towards trusting. Unlike Goldie, though, Chen is not as fond of Ben’s workshop. The noise of the equipment seems to scare him, so Chen spends doggy daycare time during the day at the home of Ben’s parents Wes and Reta Rupp who also have grown to love the dog. At about 4:30 each afternoon, Chen heads to the door and waits for Ben’s arrival.
“Chen knows his routine now,” Ben shares. The once silent Chen has even picked up the habit of barking at the doorbell from Ben’s brother’s dog. Carol shares that when their teenage son gets up in the middle of the night for a snack, Chen will bark at him, too.
At first, Chen was skittish during walks. “Every twenty feet, he would stop and look behind him. He doesn’t do that anymore.” Ben speculates that from Chen’s years of being on the run, he had learned to be defensive and always on the watch.
Now, Chen is part of the family. He lies on the floor with the family while they watch TV. He hides his bones in the family couch. He is at home. And, he may even have a companion joining him, too, as the Rupps are searching for another Chow. Many rescue organizations prefer that their dogs stay in their own states, so they patiently are searching for the perfect companion for Chen.
For a dog once on the run eating from dumpsters, Chen now has life made in the comforts of a warm home with a loving family. He’s one lucky dog, although Ben, a dog lover now, would argue that they are lucky ones.