Twenty-eight-year-old Kaley Carlyle is a Radiation Therapist living in Atlanta, Georgia. With a passion for animal rescue, she and her husband live in a home filled with foster dogs and four adopted pooches: Tempest, Kipling, Bailey, and Chupey—the newest addition to their family! Born just over a year ago, Chupey has captured hearts all over the world because of his perennially smiling face and unique appearance. Kaley reveals how she came to adopt Chupey, and how he has helped her spread the word about adopting and raising dogs responsibly.
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Waldo’s Friends (WF): Hi Kaley! Can you tell us about the first pet you ever adopted?
Kaley Carlyle (KC): The first pet I ever adopted was a black lab mix named Buddy. My parents gave him to me for Christmas when I was 10. He was a “free puppy” from someone who had put a sign out by the road. We really did not know much about dogs at the time, and we learned so much from Buddy. He was truly an awesome dog and lived 15 long years. I could not have asked for a better first dog and friend.
While we had Buddy, I got my second dog, and she was the one that turned me into a rescue and adoption nut. We actually found her in a dumpster when she was eight ounces and four weeks old. We named the little Jack Russell/Chihuahua after the dumpster she was in, Dempsey. She was my little sidekick; went everywhere with me, even in theaters and into my college classes sometimes! But she was killed when she and I were on a deck that collapsed and fell. It tore me apart, but out of the heartache, I decided that I needed to help others find “their Dempsey.”
I started taking in dogs from bad situations, taking them to the vet, then finding them homes. I made friends from all over and rescued more and more. And it hasn’t stopped from there. Nearly a decade later, it’s how I came to meet Chupey.
WF: How did Chupey enter your life?
KC: Chupey was born in South Georgia to an outdoor older dog that was allowed to get pregnant by any male passing through. Chupey was very different from his other siblings, in looks clearly, but also developmentally. He was always a step behind them in opening his eyes, walking, etc. But it didn’t stop him from trying!
I was alerted to Chupey’s plight when he was a few weeks old. I had been trying to get his owners to fix their dogs for ages as I had been asked to take a few puppies from this mom before that were born with minor issues. So when I found out a puppy with even more potential issues had been born, I was determined to help him and his mother. I told the family that I would take the puppy, but I had to be able to help them get his mother fixed. Thank goodness they agreed! We got Chupey, and a few weeks later, his mother was spayed with help from the non-profit No More Puppies GA. I intended to get Chupey healthy and find him a forever family, but when the time came, I realised he was already with his forever family.
Each of my four dogs has their own interesting adoption stories, all from a myriad of situations. Personally, I will never not rescue or adopt, as I have seen too many dogs without homes. And I love helping a dog that starts off abused and eventually comes out of their shell to become your best friend.
WF: What makes Chupey unique?
KC: Chupey wears his uniqueness right out on his sleeves. Haha! He is very physically unique and we are just now learning why. Thanks to one of the geneticists at Embark (who Chupey took a DNA test with), we have actually found that he has a partial duplication of his 6th chromosome. This is huge as it could potentially explain some of what makes his body look the way it does! We are still learning more on the subject as we speak.
WF: As a young pup, did you ever worry that the physical “oddities” Chupey was born with indicated sickness or something else?
KC: I was extremely worried when I got him. I had seen pictures of him and could tell from those that something wasn’t right. I also knew that he had spent his first few weeks under a shed not receiving the specialised care that he truly needed. Furthermore, I had no clue if all of the deformities on the outside meant that something else was going to be even more wrong on the inside.
When I picked him up, I still wasn’t quite sure what to think. He was covered in flea dirt and his skin seemed so dry and sickly. Plus, he had two nasty scratches on his neck and ears from where two dogs on the property pulled at him. Chupey didn’t seem super normal then. He was eight weeks old, but he seemed to act more like a four-week-old pup in the way he interacted and moved about. Plus, he slept a lot.
Despite his appearance, the vet was surprised to find a pretty normal pup. Over the next four months, we had multiple check-ups, blood tests, and random visits to assure that it was truly the case. In that time, Chupey started to act more like a normal dog, other than the fact that he still slept so much more than most dogs his age. His mental state seemed to rapidly develop over the first month he was with me, to the point that I no longer worried about it at all! We then found out from his blood tests that his liver was working overtime.
We believe his liver might be underdeveloped, so Chupey has been on a low-protein diet since then to give his liver some rest, and the results have been amazing. His energy came to him within two weeks and has not gone away since. Chupey loves to run and play and it’s hard to wear him out now!
It’s been a journey to get to this point, and I still don’t know what challenges Chupey will encounter in future. I don’t know how long I will be blessed to have him, but for now, I am just happy that he is happy, healthy, and lives a great life!
WF: Were there any challenges that came with adopting Chupey or your other pets?
KC: To be totally honest, I don’t usually have any issue with most dogs settling into the home. Perhaps I am very lucky, or perhaps I am so used to fosters that I know how to set them up for success. But I do think a very large part of it is that adult dogs are usually so much easier than people give them credit for.
Everyone wants to adopt a puppy because they are small and cute or because they don’t think an adult dog will have the personality they want. But believe it or not, I think it’s much better to adopt an adult if you want something very specific out of your dog. With an adult, you can already tell their personality and their likes and dislikes, where puppies do not truly develop their own personality quirks until a few weeks or months after people adopt them.
Adults are also intelligent. Rarely do I struggle with potty training adult dogs who have never been in a house.They usually take about three days to figure it out, way faster than puppies! But if I were to reveal the toughest part of adopting, I would have to say it would be finding the right one. I find it easier when dogs find their way to me, the way I came to adopt Tempest, Kipling, and Chupey. We went out searching for an English Bulldog and adopted Bailey and she is absolutely amazing! But I totally prefer the rescues that find you. I guess it’s the surprise!
WF: Speaking of Bailey, are she and Chupey best mates?
KC: Yes, Bailey and Chupey are pals. The two of them remind me of some sort of hilarious comedy duo; the tall lanky one with all the energy, and the heavier set, grumpier looking one of sorts. It’s brilliant!
It started when Chupey was super small. He would always seek her out in her bed to cuddle as she was one of the warmest things in the house. I have many pictures of him cuddling up to her when he was a tiny baby. I think their friendship comes from the fact that Bailey is extremely tolerant of how into physical contact Chupey is, whereas the other two dogs are not. Chupey loves to lean against you, rub against you, and give tiny nibbles when he is super happy; all things Bailey never really bothers to do anything about. Even in the rare case where she gets annoyed with him, all he has to do is nibble on her legs or chest and she turns to butter as she loves having her itches scratched. It is a win-win!
WF: Any funny or interesting stories you can share about your adopted pets?
KC: When you have multiple pets, there is always something funny or interesting to watch going on! I have four dogs, and all of them have neat little quirks that combine to keep me smiling most of the time.
I enjoy taking them out when the weather is cool enough and love watching the interactions with everyone. If we go to a dog park, Tempest is running around, bossing everyone around like a lifeguard though he is the smallest dog. Kipling is going from lap to lap getting smooches and pets like he never gets any at home. Bailey is careening around, running into other dogs and the backs of people’s legs like she has never been in public before. Chupey has no clue what to do with all the attention everyone is giving him.
Some of my favorite interactions occur in the dog park, as I get a lot of questions about my dogs. I often take the chance to talk to other pet owners about rescue pets and the importance of spaying and neutering, as well as offering any advice. My dogs are all so varied and unique, whether that be in looks or quirky personality, and it gives me a great opportunity to talk to people about what I am passionate about without coming out of nowhere to them.
WF: What are the things your rescue pets enjoy doing with you and your husband?
KC: I hate to be boring, but their favorite thing to do with us is sleep. They are all cuddly and they love to snuggle! They each have their favorite places at night and usually gravitate to the same areas! The dogs also love working out in the yard when my husband is out there, and I know he is grateful for the company! They also love begging for food…although they don’t beg from my husband. All four tend to gather around me, probably because they know they are likely to get a scrap or two from me. Oops!
WF: How does Chupey feel about you dressing him up in cute outfits?
KC: Chupey loves his outfits. I think early on he learned just how much warmer he is when he is wearing something over his skin. Whenever he wears them, he always rubs against our legs and rolls on the carpet. He had even taken to sitting in front of a heater with his PJs on when he was younger. He loves warmth! Chupey hasn’t gotten to wear anything since early this year due to the heat, but I have started buying new pieces as he did so much growing since last winter. I recently held up his first coat and his first pajamas next to him and almost started to cry! He has gotten so big!
WF: What’s it like having four dogs at home?
KC: I’ve had many numbers of dogs in my home, counting fosters and rescues. The high numbers can be stressful depending on the age of dog you have, their behaviour, and their needs. I have had eight dogs before where everyone behaved perfectly and amicably. There was literally no stress at all. It really depends on how everyone jells.
In my opinion, having four personal dogs is a lot tougher than three. Three dogs is actually my favorite number, and I like to have a diverse range of ages, as seniors are my favorite. I do not have that right now, but sometimes, you can’t predict who you fall in love with! Having four dogs, especially ones with higher energy, means that someone is always in your space, someone always wants your attention, and someone is usually getting into something they shouldn’t. Even though mine behave very, very well, I always listen out for strange sounds or stretches of silence that are suspiciously long!
Traveling can be a bit harder too as you have to make sure there is someone you trust to care for a small circus. But having four also means that there are more than enough kisses to go around, and you never get cold at bedtime in the winter!
WF: What’s the best tip you can give for single-pet owners who decide to get another pet?
KC: I am more than happy to tell them the truth; that having two dogs (that get along with each other) is usually easier and more rewarding than having one. Two dogs play with one another, alleviating some of the boredom pets feel at home alone all day, which also takes some pressure off of a tired owner after a long day at work. Yes, there is more cost in vet work and food, but some clinics give you discounts for multiple pets, and the pets often keep each other happier and healthier!
Dogs (and even many cats) are social creatures and yet they spend huge amounts of time during the day alone. But a friend helps with that. Some people worry that their pet will not love them as much if they get a friend. But as someone who spent their childhood with one dog that eventually got many friends when he was older, I promise you that dogs have more than enough love to give you and their friends!
WF: How has your life changed after adopting and rescuing dogs?
KC: My life has completely changed after adopting animals. For nearly a decade, it has taken over much of my spare time and my identity. It has changed the way I look at movies, TV, social media, marketing ads, and even more. It has changed me so much that I even complain about representation of mixed breed dogs in media, which is something that most people have never even once thought about.
I heavily encourage anyone and everyone to adopt. You can find almost any kind of dog in a shelter or rescue if you are patient enough. Most people just simply do not want the hassle or tell me that they deserve to have exactly what they want, which I understand but still find incredibly sad. No one likes to think about dogs being euthanised, but they like to disconnect themselves and pretend that their actions have no bearing on the state of shelter dogs. But it does, even if it is in the smallest possible way.
Rescued dogs are so grateful for their rescuers. I know that sounds crazy to say, but most of them truly do. There is a difference to how they act once settled into their new home, especially the ones who have suffered more abuse. There is a weight that lifts off of them in the first few weeks of their new life. And they look at you with such love and adoration that I personally could never go back to not adopting. I understand people’s hesitancy, which is why I often encourage fostering or volunteering first, so they can be around rescue animals, see how great they are, and see how much of a bad hand so many have been dealt through no fault of their own.
WF: What’s your advice for people thinking of adopting a rescue animal?
KC: First off, I advise people to have an idea of what they want. Some people do not care what type of dog they get. They simply want to rescue one and that is great, but others have specific needs in their lives. Do you not have time for a puppy? That is okay, adopt an adult! Does your apartment restrict sizes? That is okay, adopt a small adult so you know their full size! Do you want a running partner? Go to the shelter and visit the dogs and ask to take them for walks! Do you have a family member with allergies? That’s no big deal! Just adopt a non-shedding dog.If you are dead set on a specific breed or mix of that breed, there are breed-specific rescues and pet search engines that allow you to find that breed near you.
After having an idea about what you want, you need the supplies. It is never a good idea to make an impulse decision or bring a pet home with nothing ready for him. Crates can be bought used or very affordably. Research your vet, your food, and what types of preventative you want to use for him.
Once you have everything ready, I encourage you to go MEET the pets. Do not just look online. Go meet them and see how they interact with your family. Find a rescue that lets you do a trial run if possible. That way, you can see how the pet does in your home!
Adoption is great and so many people have wonderful experiences! And they are saving lives, which is always a treat.
WF: How do you feel about Chupey having 162K Instagram followers? Does it put the pressure on you to share more unique posts and discuss responsible pet ownership?
KC: It boggles my mind that Chupey has so many followers. People all over the world comment on his pictures in a variety of languages. He has had pictures drawn of him and has had toys sent from other countries. I simply cannot fathom it. It is really amazing. And it makes me super happy that my cute but strange-looking little guy has so many fans considering he came from such a rough life.
Admittedly, I do feel a certain pressure to try to capture as many interesting and varied experiences with him on my camera as possible. I try not to post too many similar things close together, and I try to stay aware of little holidays like National Coffee Day or Tongue Out Tuesday so that I can provide Chupey’s followers with something fun and interesting to look at that. Also, I try not to let it get too repetitive, although the followers have said they don’t really mind as long as they get more Chupey. Haha! People are asking for Chupey products, but I am not really sure how to tackle it. I am still trying to figure it out because I know people want them and it would be a great way to raise money for rescue dogs in need.
The platform that Chupey helps me stand on is the importance of adopting, especially special needs pets or those that may not be as attractive as others. I also love to talk about why spaying/neutering is so important. Luckily, Chupey and his life tie very heavily into all these issues, so the fact that many people love him so much is a wonderful thing.
See more of Chupey and his adopted fur siblings on Instagram.
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