Aloha from Maui, Friend,
I’ve heard many EverPup success stories since I co-founded the company in 2008. But I’ve never personally witnessed one. And that is why I would like to tell you about what happened with my new rescue dog Chloé.
I have to admit that this story doesn’t show me or my wife Molly in the best light at first. We made some mistakes … but we also made some good choices.
Ultimately, this story is about how my life has prepared me to love and care for little Chloé … and in return, Chloé has reminded me of my purpose and our company’s mission.
Our mission is to help improve the quality of life for dogs and the people who love them.
It all started when Chloé’s mom Jeannette died.
Actually, no, it started way earlier, over a decade ago, when Jeannette and her husband moved into my neighborhood.
Jeannette and Jacques, a Love Story
Jeannette was feisty and tiny. If she were an actress, she could have played the part of the immortal boy who never aged: Peter Pan.
But she wasn’t an actress: Jeannette was a tough-as-nails surgical nurse.
When Jeannette and her loving husband Jacques moved in next door, he had just retired. He was a hugely successful hotel chef in Hawaii (we live on Maui). She raved about his beautiful, perfect meals.
Our new neighbors threw parties, spoke French, and celebrated the good life. They also doted on their pack of miniature poodles.
Then Jacques got sick.
Jeannette nursed him in his last days.
After he died, she cared for their furbabies with the same devotion.
One by one, they left her, too. The last to pass was Babette. Here she is with Jeannette on her nineteenth birthday.
Now in her early eighties, Jeannette was sharp as a tack mentally, but her body was betraying her.
For one thing, she no longer had her chef husband to keep her well-fed. She went to the gym or did yoga every day, though. She had to: she had suffered from scoliosis since childhood. Unless she stretched and strengthened, her bones twisted and bent cruelly.
With no Jacques to do the cooking, parties were fewer. Jeannette said she was incredibly lonely with no one to talk to or pet.
We started bringing our maltese, Kanga and Roo, over to her house for long visits. Our dogs adored her fenced-in backyard and her willing and endless attention.
My heart dog, Kanga particularly loved Jeannette.
When we jokingly referred to “going to grandma’s,” Kanga would run towards her house.
Kanga was a dignified dog; she didn’t make a fool of herself over anyone, except on occasion, me or Molly … and Jeannette.
Kanga made it clear that Jeannette was family, and worthy of extra special attention.
For example, Kanga didn’t like to give kisses. But Jeannette loved dog kisses and begged both dogs for them.
Roo gleefully complied, slathering her with doggy kisses.
But Kanga ignored Jeannette’s repeated requests … until she started whimpering like a puppy.
Then Kanga would oblige and give her one, quick, dry cheek lick. Every time this happened, it seemed like it made Jeanette’s day. And it was awfully fun to witness.
Jeannette was so lonely for a dog of her own. She said that she wanted to dog-sit when we traveled. “Go somewhere nice!” she would boss me. “Get off the island! Give me the dogs!!”
So we did. She was the best dogsitter I could imagine.
Jeannette followed our instructions for food and supplementing with EverPup to the letter.
She loved having the girls sleep in her bed.
Hanai Grandma Jeannette
Hanai is a native Hawaiian (kanaka maoli) concept of being a family not by blood but by bond. If you say that someone is your “hanai” relative, everyone understands they are real family–as real as your blood relations.
Jeannette’s bond with Kanga and Roo made it obvious: she was their hanai grandma. And she felt it too: she refused payment for her dogsitting, insisting she had the better deal.
Of course, I wanted to express my gratitude in a special way and would bring her gifts from our travels.
When we went to Italy in 2017, I asked her what I could bring back as a special thank you. Quick as ever, and with a wink, she answered, “A little Italian man!”
I did exactly that: I brought her a tiny little fridge magnet of Michaelangelo’s statue of David. She laughed uproariously and said “perfecto!” She showed all her friends the “little Italian man Jim got for me.”
About a year before the pandemic, Kanga was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. As we navigated those horrible early days, we realized we weren’t going to be traveling again. Every day with her was precious.
So Jeannette had less doggy vacation time with our girls.
She understood why we weren’t traveling, but she was getting super lonely.
Then Jeannette had a digestion problem that was serious enough to require hospitalization. She lost strength and was no longer able to do yoga. Her spine began to twist, and unexplained and painful symptoms began to crop up.
We tried to help, but there wasn’t much we could do other than visit and take her to the doctor on occasion.
Chloé Comes Home
Then one day, we saw a post on Facebook about a tiny little maltipoo who needed a new home. She was very small, about 5.5 pounds, and she was in a place where there were toddlers who thought she was a stuffed toy to squeeze … and big dogs who thought she was a rabbit to chase. Her mom traveled a lot, too. She wanted to rehome her two-and-a-half-year-old dog and give her a chance at a better life.
We sent the post to Jeannette who reached out and talked to the mom and agreed to take the little girl for a week’s trial.
Within days, Jeannette fell in love with this darling little dog. She named her Chloé.
Jeannette’s body was twisting more every day. She couldn’t get out for walks often, although she tried, knowing how important walks are for dogs.
But Chloé didn’t seem to be leash trained. She pulled hard in different directions with each step. She also turned around in circles and acted confused about what the point of the walk was. Jeannette was afraid of getting tangled up and falling.
So Chloé had never been shown what it means to be a good canine citizen; that was clear.
Chloé also had some health issues.
Her coat was dull and brittle. Her ears were chronically junked up, and her eyes were gunky. She regurgitated food a lot, had the ‘hunger barfs’ regularly, and often had diarrhea.
She snapped at Jeannette if she tried to bathe or brush her. Her teeth were sharp and Jeannette’s skin was thinning and fragile. So she gave up on trying to groom Chloé. That meant Chloé’s dry coat matted.
Here’s the part of the story that is embarrassing to admit.
Chloé Didn’t Like Our Dogs
I was happy for Jeannette and Chloé, but I’ll be honest, her arrival heralded a change in our relationship. Our visits became shorter, and a little more stressful.
Kanga and Roo didn’t quite know what to make of Chloé.
Jeannette was their hanai grandma … but Chloé did not see it that way.
When Kanga came over to get some pets from Jeannette, Chloé stood between them and bared her teeth. She snapped at Jeannette if she picked Kanga up for a hug.
Jeannette insisted Chloé was a darling and cuddly dog. And I saw her show affection to Jeannette.
She was also pretty cuddly with us — but man, she really was rude to our dogs.
Our visits had changed.
We often just stood outside in the driveway, holding our dogs in our arms while we talked. We couldn’t put them all down, or Chloé would start something.
An EverPup Offer Rejected
I wanted to help Chloé and I suspected that changing her diet and augmenting it with EverPup could help. Jeannette was not interested.
She had commented over the years how EverPup must be the reason our senior dogs looked and acted so young. Jeannette saw how healthy and vibrant our dogs both were, right up until and through their senior years. She saw them bounce around and enjoy life, even if they had a serious illness.
Jeannette had even recommended EverPup to other dog lovers.
As a former nurse, she knew the ingredients in EverPup could help with skin and coat, mobility, digestion, metabolism, cognitive balance –and even happier poops.
But Jeannette shunned my offer to let Chloé try EverPup for a month or two.
So why didn’t she give it to Chloé?
I asked Jeannette. She answered, “She’s too young to need a supplement.”
I told her that EverPup was recommended by veterinarians for dogs of all ages from puppy through senior. That didn’t sway Jeannette, so I demurred.
I try hard not to judge people because everyone has reasons for doing what they do. I especially try hard not to judge people who love dogs.
Sometimes people can see for others what they can’t see for themselves.
She had seen the EverPup difference in Kanga and Roo (who was also a rescue), but I’m not sure she wanted to see that Chloé might find it helpful, too.
I let it go, of course.
I adored Jeannette and despite Chloé’s devilish behavior, I was fond of her.
And Chloé did like me.
In fact, Molly thinks that Chloé’s believes I am a superhero because I once rescued her from a dog attack.
Once when Chloé was living with Jeannette, she was attacked by a large black labrador.
It was a dog we’ll call Petunia (names have been changed to protect the innocent) who was an amiable neighbor dog. But one day, she decided to take a bite out of Chloé.
(And no, Chloé didn’t instigate it. We were watching when it happened, and Petunia just snuck up on her from behind and bit her.)
It was a total shock for us dog lovers. Mike, Petunia’s dad, hauled her off and far away. Jeannette stood in total shock, repeating, “I don’t know what Chloé did.” I picked up the bleeding, squealing Chloé. Molly swished Kanga and Roo back inside our house.
We rushed to the emergency hospital. Molly drove. Jeannette sat in the front seat, the only seat she could comfortably get in and out of. And I held Chloé in the back. She eventually stopped squealing but kept moaning a little as we rode.
I checked Chloé in and talked with the veterinarian, holding her little bird body while he examined her.
Thankfully, Chloé was OK, with no significant damage.
The big hole would close up over time. After that, Chloé always greeted me joyfully on visits. She knew I was the one who took care of her that night.
This is the part of the story that I feel guilty about: when Jeannette passed away.
Pandemic Grief and Loss
The pandemic was raging, and so was Jeannette’s pain.
Jeannette was intolerant to medications, so she said on a pain scale of 1 to 10, it felt like it was a 20 most of the time.
Jeannette couldn’t take Chloé for walks. Chloé and Jeannette loved each other and were close, but it was a stressful environment.
Jeannette seemed lonelier than ever.
Meanwhile, Molly and I were both dealing with our own health-related issues. We lost friends and family members to illness during the lockdowns.
Already grief-stricken, when our younger dog Roo died, it hit us hard. Bowed by grief, we were worried about getting Jeannette sick, too, so we didn’t see her and Chloé in person.
Time passed, and we didn’t check in as often as we should have. We fell out of the habit of calling.
Kanga Makes a Dying Request
In late June of 2022, Kanga had started to falter on her long cancer battle. She insisted on her morning and evening walks, but she was slower, and we didn’t go as far.
It had been months since we’d gone to Jeannette’s and visited with her and Chloé in person. And then one evening, Kanga decided to change that.
Kanga started bolting towards Jeannette’s house on our walks.
Every evening she would tug us over there, once actually running over. (We didn’t think that was possible anymore.)
Once on her lanai (porch), Kanga would bark — loudly — until Jeannette hobbled to the door.
Kanga would run in, and she and Chloé — the tiny little bitey anxiety-ridden terror — would sit by Chloé’s leash.
It was a rare act of solidarity between those two dogs.
Jeannette declared that Kanga wanted to take Chloé for a walk, and we couldn’t argue with her.
So we did, several times.
It was awful.
This tiny little dog would gyrate up the street, spinning in circles every few steps. She deposited mooky poops on nearly every yard.
And she squeaked. I mean, really squeaked, like a mouse, only as loud as a bark.
All the time.
If we tried to pick her up or calm her down, she would snap and scoot away.
Meanwhile, Kanga would lumber behind with a big smile on her face.
We live on a street that is one big loop, with lots of friendly neighbors. They all found this quite entertaining.
The first few times this happened, both Molly and I had the same premonition: Kanga would be leaving us soon and she was “giving” us Chloé as our next dog.
We finally admitted it to each other after enough crazy-making walks. With some chagrin, I might add, because (here’s what is so embarrassing), neither of us really loved Chloé.
She was hard to give care to, even if she was super cute and fun to pet when she wasn’t nipping.
We understood how her early life had created habits and trauma that were playing out today.
We knew how hard it could be to help a dog get over trauma like hers.
I’m proud of my reputation for being a dog lover. (I mean, when you are invited on CNN to meditate with a dog, you are setting the bar pretty high, right?)
It’s uncomfortable for me to admit this, but I just didn’t think Molly and I were up to the task.
Like everyone reading this, the pandemic had changed our lives in many ways. We couldn’t imagine ever having the energy or patience to deal with Chloé.
But we didn’t have to take it seriously, right? We put the idea that Kanga wanted us to be her next dog parents in the “funny idea” category.
Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt
We were in so much denial. Kanga was only two weeks from death, but we still hoped for more years. (With no evidence those years were available.)
And Jeannette was still her feisty, cranky self, if lonely and in a lot of pain.
Chloé would have many more years with her.
Wrong! What happened next blindsided us.
Kanga ran across the rainbow bridge to join our many loved ones on July 26, 2022.
Our world went to pieces.
I don’t need to tell anyone reading this how much losing a heart dog hurts.
Our life became one big muddled puddle of pain.
Friends and neighbors told us to get another dog as soon as possible. But they sounded crazy to us. We knew with certainty it would be years before we were ready for another dog. We couldn’t even contemplate it.
So now here is the really terrible, shaming part of my story.
We were so absorbed in our mourning that we didn’t notice Jeannette wasn’t in her home.
A couple of weeks after Kanga left, we steeled ourselves for our first visit to Jeannette and Chloé. We walked over to her house.
But Jeannette didn’t answer the knock. Chloé didn’t bark from inside, either.
We asked around, and the immediate neighbors had seen an ambulance, a few days earlier.
Oh no. We were the worst hanai family in history.
Molly called Jeannette’s daughter. It turned out that she was on Maui with her husband, staying in their part-time home on the other side of the island.
Jeannette had had a series of small strokes. She and Chloé were staying with them.
Molly made tentative plans to visit in a couple of weeks when Jeannette felt better.
We were worried about Jeannette, but happy that she was with family.
Would We Take Chloé?
About a week later, Molly got another call from Jeannette’s daughter.
They were looking at long-term care for her mom, who was doing worse.
She asked if we wanted to take Chloé, and said we were Jeannette’s first choice.
Molly reflexively said no.
She explained that our grief was too fresh and overwhelming, with only a few weeks since Kanga had left.
But to be honest, Molly and I both knew Chloé was a lot of work.
We couldn’t imagine being able to handle the stress. Or the bites.
We just couldn’t.
Jeannette’s daughter said she understood.
She had a family friend who thought Chloé was super cute, and she would ask her for help. The friend had already said she would keep Chloé until Jeannette recovered and came home.
Still in denial, we breathed a sigh of relief.
Jeannette had always been such a firecracker. She was insisting she would soon be fine, and coming home. She was on the mend, and just needed extra support right now.
We believed it.
Looking back, I think we didn’t want to believe anything else.
Chloé’s In Trouble
But our denial was soon shattered.
Just weeks later, in November 2022, Jeannette’s chronic pain ended when she passed away.
We were glad she was out of pain, and we were devastated to lose another dear one.
And we were relieved that Chloé was in a good home until Jeannette’s daughter could return to take her.
A few days later, the daughter told us she couldn’t take Chloé. Worse, Chloé’s new guardian had a boyfriend who didn’t really like small dogs.
Based on the conversation, we feared Chloé would eventually go to the shelter.
Maui’s shelter is always overcrowded, and it’s a kill shelter.
Chloé looks easy to adopt because she’s so adorable, but we knew her behavior would make her hard to place.
We spoke to the family friend who was caring for Chloé. I am going to spare you most of the specifics, but once again, Chloé was in a hard place.
History seemed to be repeating itself for this little dog.
Her first mom had loved her, but she was chased and under threat a lot. She was left alone for weeks while her mom traveled.
Then Chloé lived with Jeannette, who adored her and cared for her as best she could, but was in pain a lot. Chloé was worried about Jeannette … she was loved, and had companionship, but her physical needs were sometimes unmet.
Now, Chloé was with a woman whose boyfriend wished she was a German Shepherd. He also liked to “play rough.” He insisted on feeding table scraps because he didn’t want to spend “extra money on food.”
The thought of Chloé in yet another tough situation tortured us.
We remembered Kanga’s big smiles in her last weeks of life as she insisted we walk Chloé.
We felt like she was urging us from the other side of the rainbow bridge to do the right thing. Kanga had made her last wishes explicit.
And we knew with certainty that Jeannette wanted us to take Chloé, even if she didn’t insist or try to guilt us.
I fear that Jeannette died thinking we had abandoned her little dog.
What kind of hanai family were we?
We were not doing the right thing by Jeannette.
We Finally Make the Right Decision
We decided we owed it to the memory of Jeannette and Kanga to foster Chloé until we could find the perfect home for her.
(Again, denial: we were certain it wouldn’t be our home.)
We spoke to our friend and favorite dog trainer, Lisa, and got excellent advice and tips.
Then we called Chloé’s guardian. It took some careful conversations to convince her to give Chloé to us. She had come to love having Chloé around and didn’t want to let her go.
Driven by the feeling of guilt and obligation to our hanai on the other side of the rainbow bridge, I persisted. Finally, she agreed.
Chloé Comes to Foster
In late November 2022, Chloé arrived with bags of toys and kibble.
I was on a video call for work, so Molly went out to meet Chloé while I wrapped things up. She unloaded everything from the car, and it all smelled of cigarette smoke.
Meanwhile, Chloé wandered our front yard as if she hadn’t been there before.
She didn’t greet Molly and also didn’t seem to want to be near her previous guardian.
But when I finally emerged from the house, we all three saw her give a start of recognition.
She ran to me, I grabbed her leash, and we went for our first, loopy, short, weird walk.
The first evening was shocking for all three of us.
Chloé smelled like cigarettes.
It was so bad Molly dropped her directly into a bath. Chloé didn’t bite or even snap. That should have been our first clue that she was hoping we would keep her … but we were just focused on getting her cleaned up, and her sores tended to.
Even cleaned up, we were shocked at her appearance.
Chloé was not the dog we remembered.
The months of illness and moving around had been hard on her.
Her coat, which had never been sparkling, was even duller.
It was also distinctly tanned in places, not white or even cream-colored. Her ears were filthy, and her nose appeared to be mottled with a light brown color, not the even, darker brown we remembered.
The whites of her eyes seemed like a distressing shade of tan. Her right eyeball had a disruption on the iris, and Molly worried about an eye tumor. It didn’t seem to coordinate with her left eye, either. And the color of her eyes, which had always been a coppery brown, was odd. It was like a freshly minted penny.
She was a faded version of herself.
Chloé was so thin that holding her felt like holding a baby bird: all sharp bones and long, shaggy, matted fur.
What had this little dog been through? We felt terrible that she was suffering, and glad we were finally stepping up and doing the right thing.
At dinner that night, I cuddled Chloé on my lap, and Molly took this picture. I think I already knew I was in trouble.
The next day when I was meditating, Chloé jumped up into my lap and joined me.
Once again, the look on my face says it all: I had a feeling Chloé wanted to be my dog. Somehow she knew that jumping on my lap to meditate (uninvited) would signal to me that this was HER home.
But it wasn’t always that easy.
For the first weeks, Chloé was distant, perpetually confused, and in shock.
She didn’t turn her head when we called her by name.
She barely sniffed around our house. When we took her outside, she eliminated immediately and then just stood there.
For weeks, she didn’t want to eat unless we both sat on the floor and fed her by hand.
She couldn’t walk on her own for a few days, because she was too weak.
She couldn’t ride in the car, either, without trying to jump out the window, crazed with fear.
She screamed like a tiny woman being attacked, as Molly wrote on her Facebook page.
Yet, she let us cradle her like a baby and rolled over for belly rubs whenever she saw us.
Chloé Was Helping Us
We were still crying almost daily about Kanga’s passing … but caring for Chloé didn’t make us feel worse, like we thought it would.
It made us feel a little better.
We still missed Kanga. But Chloé was filling a dog-shaped hole in our family’s life.
We gave her EverPup with her meals right from the start.
We were also calm, patient, and loving.
We didn’t mind when she had an accident, and we took her for crazy loopy walks day and evening. We could see her mind working hard to change her behavior.
And her health issues all started to improve.
Over the next weeks and months, we saw near-miraculous changes in Chloé.
So many that our neighbors have said at some point, “Is this the same dog?” I’ll write more about the specifics at another time. There are several amazing stories to share.
Eventually, Chloé changed so much that we realized she was ready to be rehomed.
But we couldn’t do it.
Whenever I thought to post about her, she did something so charming I wanted another day or two.
Then Chloé got really sick, and we helped her recover … and that made up my mind. But that’s another story.
Our Little Valentine
On Valentine’s Day, 2023, a week after Chloé nearly died, I told Molly I wanted Chloé to join our family.
Molly was thrilled, and Chloé acted like she’d known she would fail our fostering all along.
As a business owner, I should say that all those changes were due to EverPup, right? And a lot of them were certainly supported by our supplement.
But I don’t discount the role of love from two broken-hearted people. Or the endless support from friends and family all over the world.
I also don’t rule out the love of Jeannette and Kanga — and our many other loved ones — on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
I will never be able to prove what happened to Chloé was down to any one thing. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, which is what we say about our supplement formulas, too.
I’ll write more about my new love, Chloé, soon. Until next time, be well, and I wish you and your dogs a warm aloha.
CEO and Co-Founder
PS: My marketing department wants me to mention that EverPup is Buy Two Get One FREE all August long, while supplies last. Our 100% money-back taste guarantee is extended from 30 to 90 days, too … all August long.
PPS: Since you read this far, I’ll personally give you a special gift in honor of Chloé: a second FREE jar of EverPup on top of the first free jar. All month long, if you put THREE jars of EverPup in your cart and then use the coupon code CHLOE, the cart will give you four jars for the price of two. That will make this month’s Buy Two Get One FREE offer a Buy Two Get Two FREE offer … a 120-day supply for the price of 60, with a 90-day guarantee. This is only while supplies last.