published Monday, June 27th, 2011

Man gave up stray dog after losing job

Michael Nelson, of Chattanooga, took in Brandy, a stray he found outside his work, after her original owner lost her during a visit here.
Contributed photo
Michael Nelson, of Chattanooga, took in Brandy, a stray he found outside his work, after her original owner lost her during a visit here. Contributed photo

Michael Nelson was happy to learn that his beloved pet, a stray dog he named H.D., has found a new home. He read about it recently in the Times Free Press.

Brandy, a cocker-spaniel mix, was reunited last month with her previous owner after more than five years of separation.

Ken Strackman, of Miami, was contacted last month by McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center after a routine veterinary examination here uncovered an identification chip in the dog that listed Strackman as the owner.

The dog had bolted from Strackman after he arrived in Chattanooga for a Thanksgiving visit in 2005.

Brandy eventually found her way to Nelson, who worked at a convenience store blocks from where she ran away.

Nelson, who recently lost his job and was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said he had no choice but to take the former stray, H.D. (for Homeless Dog), to McKamey.

“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” said Nelson, 58. “I was aware of McKamey and that they take good care of animals. Still, it broke my heart. When we got to McKamey, I walked in the door and had to turn around and walk back out to get the courage to take her back in.”

Nelson said that the first time he saw Brandy/H.D., he was working at a convenience store on Hixson Pike about three blocks from where he lived. It was February 2006, several months after the dog had gone missing from Strackman. The dog “started coming around the store at night,” Nelson said. “She looked hungry, so I started putting food in a bowl by the walkway.

After a couple of months, she let Nelson pet her. “I knew she finally trusted me,” she said.

Unable to entice the dog into his car, Nelson walked home one night, hoping the dog would follow him. She did. For the next several years, H.D. had a good home and was loved, Nelson said.

“I did the best I could for her. I didn’t make much money, so I couldn’t afford veterinary care, but I got her flea medication, and she ate good, sometimes better than I did. I took her to dog parks, and she liked to ride in the car. It was just the two of us. We were good friends.”

Nelson said the story couldn’t have had a better ending than his dog being reunited with her previous owner.

“I am very happy knowing that she’s back with someone who loves her,” he said. “If he was willing to drive 1,000 miles to get his dog, then I know he loves her. I never knew about the [microchip] being in her, and I feel bad about not taking her to a vet. But I did my best and loved her. I still do.”

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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NorthChatter said...

Not sure if this story broke my heart, but it sure as hell put a crack in it.

I can't imagine how tough it would be to have to surrender one of my dogs like that...I know that no matter how down in life I get, my two dogs are still happy and wag a tail for me. Their unconditional love has gotten me through some tough times in life.

It is so nice to see a happy ending to this story...yet, I really feel for Michael Nelson. I hope times get better for him soon...I am sure he really misses H.D.

June 27, 2011 at 12:54 a.m.
kenstar said...

I am the original owner and I am so glad I drove back to Chattanooga from Miami to pick up Brandy. She is doing well and lost quite a bit of weight In the picture above she was 65 lbs. She is about 48 lbs now. She's very happy and gets along well with my other adopted dog. She gets a bath and haircut every 2 or 3 months. I never would have gotten her back without the microchip under the skin. She's a loving dog with a loving dad.

May 31, 2014 at 7:05 p.m.
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