Charlie, The Broken Dog


Michael Baugh CDBC CPDT-KSA

Every dog has a story. Charlie’s begins somewhere in Montgomery County, TX.

Someone loved him. He is brave, trusting of humans, and affectionate. That’s the nature of dogs. It’s also evidence of nurturing and of bonds made resolute. He knew people, lived with people, and loved them. Somewhere, someone misses him. Charlie went astray, got in trouble, and ended up hurt. He survived, but his family never saw him again.

Tim and I foster for Dachshund Rescue of Houston (DROH). I first saw Charlie in a group email to foster families this past October. He was broken, a front leg missing, scars on his back leg, and road rash just past his rib cage. Call me crazy, but I knew the second I saw him. That’s my dog, I thought, clicking on the photo. I’d never met him. And I knew.

Montgomery County Animal Shelter gets a bum rap like a lot of animal shelters do. It’s undeserved. They did right by Charlie. His front leg was shredded. Lots of soft tissue damage, too much to repair. They committed time and money to Charlie. The surgery went well. Caring humans at Montgomery County got him off the street and pointed down the road to recovery. An animal shelter can be a good first stop for a dog like Charlie. It’s not a place, though, for a long stay.

Good people who know good people got him out of the shelter and into the care of Dachshund rescue. Charlie learned to walk again. He moved slowly at first, but was unrelenting. Tired from the effort, he’d lay his head on my chest and fall asleep. We shared Charlie with another foster family, a lovely couple who have fostered scores of dogs. They loved Charlie as much as we did. We all agreed he was exceptional.

Something had hit Charlie, a car most likely. It rolled him. It might have rolled over his leg, the one he lost. He’d taken it hard and came out the other side stronger than most. Charlie amazed us with how fast he healed. His resilience, in fact, distracted us from yet another injury. He was favoring a back leg. A vet visit and x-rays revealed a break. Charlie had another surgery to repair it and spent seven weeks in a cast. (Dachshund Rescue of Houston absorbed the cost, over three-thousand dollars).

I’ve seen a lot of broken dogs in my time, hearts and spirits mostly. Each emerged from their own personal hell, survivors of trauma or neglect, physical and emotional. I’ve also seen dogs with exceptional fortitude and dogs who are unwavering exemplars of forgiveness. Never have I known a dog like Charlie.

Stella was gone more than a year when we met Charlie. Stewie left us seven months before. They taught me about behavioral flexibility late in their lives, through the long COVID months. Charlie, it seems, has even more to teach – broken and healing and yet, still so willing to get up and take on the full expanse of life.

I knew from the first moment I saw him. Mid January we made it official. Charlie the broken dog – King Charles – Chuckles the dog – Little Chaz is ours. And we are his.

Where will his story take us next?


Charlie is between 1 1/2 and 3 years old.  DNA analysis reveals he’s a wide variety of breeds, among them a trace amount of Dachshund. Special thanks to DROH for claiming his as one of their own nonetheless. You can follow Charlie on Instagram @travels_with_Charlie__