Käthe Walton has spent time in the production departments of many television shows including ER, The West Wing, Early Edition, and Showtime’s new hit Shameless. Yet, if you ask her about her greatest accomplishment, she will not want to talk about any of that—she’ll tell you about Grizzly, her wonderful rescue dog.
Walton met a woman with BARC Chicago, and was put on the group’s contact list. “[BARC] is one of these groups that do these mass email blasts, and some of them have animals at rural shelters that do not have the means or the funds to have a shelter event,” says Walton. “Grizzly was one of those in the email blasts.”
Grizzly was a “unique-looking” Norwegian Elkhound mix who was good with cats and other dogs, which was perfect for Walton because she already four cats, but really wanted to foster a dog.
“I view it as if I was pulling this dog off the street myself,” says Walton. “When we first got her she was an incredible mess.”
Walton first met Grizzly in the back of a shelter van that transferred the pets to their new homes. Walton described the van as being filled with animals in crates from front to back and top to bottom—and Grizzly was somewhere in there.
“When we got her out of the crate, she smelled so bad. My husband could not even be in the same room,” says Walton. “The first thing I did was call a groomer.”
Grizzly’s fur was so matted and caked in filth, the groomers had to shave her fur off save for her face and her tail. “I called the groomer an hour after I dropped her off and the groomer said they were still picking ticks off of her.”
Grizzly was found running around with a St. Bernard and also had a one-inch stick stuck into her armpit. She was also suffering against a severe bout of tapeworm that could not be killed with normal medicine, an intense urinary tract infection, and Grizzly was not spayed either.
“You get this animal and you look at her and say, ‘Oh my God!’” says Walton. “She was pretty shut down, just wanted to sleep, and didn’t know how to respond to normal dog things.”
Walton says that you could toss a treat right in front of Grizzly’s face and she would not even move. She also had trouble with stairs, which was a problem considering Walton lived on the third floor of a walkup apartment building.
Walton knew that she did not have an easy road in front of her. “I just started training her to get her attention,” says Walton. “She responded very well to positive reinforcement, and once she got over her ailments she was great with cats and other people, she was not destructive at all, and she was totally housebroken—this is such a wonderful dog!”
Walton knows how lucky she got after hearing countless stories from her friends about dogs getting into the garbage, tearing clothes apart, running away, and not listening.
“With Grizzly, it is like there is this kind of connection that everybody feels,” says Walton. “She sort of breaks down a lot of barriers and stereotypes—the person you wouldn’t think cares about a dog is the one that approaches you and talks with you for a while.”
Walton, who has fostered animals throughout her life, hopes that if people take anything away from her story, it is that rescuing a dog can be the most rewarding experience of your life.
“Here is a dog that through absolutely no fault of her own was going to die,” says Walton. “I love the fact that she came from such a bad place, but has proven that these dogs are really worth saving.”
You can read more about Grizzly and Käthe in their blog here.