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Once upon a time, Courtney Keefe adopted a dog named Chloe from Open Door Animal Sanctuary. Keefe had Chloe for eight years before the pup was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder cancer in October 2017. About a month later, Keefe’s mother was diagnosed with stomach, liver, lung and pancreatic cancer. Chloe passed away this past January, and Keefe’s mother passed away slightly more than a month after Chloe.

“It was a one-two punch,” Keefe says.

In the process of grieving, but still trying to go about her daily life, Keefe went to Open Door, to which she makes regular donations, on April 7. She had browsed its adoptable dogs online, but told herself she wasn’t ready yet – until she saw Jewel.

“I was taken in by her bio online,” Keefe says. “I called and asked specifically about her.”

When Keefe arrived at Open Door, staff members asked if she would like to take Jewel for a walk.

“[The Open Door staff] was blown away by how quickly we bonded,” Keefe recalls. “There was an instant connection. We’re perfect for each other.”

Keefe took the 45-pound boxer/Lab mix home the same day. The pup had been at Open Door for 10 months and had a hard time at the shelter. She could be aggressive, had her guard up and “didn’t show well,” according to Keefe.

She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but Keefe says she didn’t need an easy dog.

“I needed a dog that was going to require attention and extra TLC,” she says. “I’m in a rough place right now, and coming home to an empty house after losing Chloe and then my mom was so hard. I was sad and removed. There was a void, but Jewel has filled that and then some. We picked each other.”

Since adopting Jewel just a little more than a month ago, Keefe has divided her time between teaching at The Soulard School and tending to her new four-legged child.

“She sleeps on the bed with me and has full run of the house,” Keefe says. “She still has her guard up a lot of the time, but she’s slowly letting it down. With me, she’s already let it down, but with other people, she’s still kind of cautious.”

Keefe says it’s impossible to keep fluffy squeaker toys in the house because Jewel “murders them.” The pup loves playing fetch, lounging, chasing squirrels and going for walks. The two are still figuring each other out, but Keefe knows Jewel is in her forever home.

“The name just fit, because she’s a diamond in the rough,” Keefe says. “She got overlooked and had to be searched for. But the patience pays off, because I love her more every day.” 

FOR YOUR OWN FAIRY-TAIL ENDING …

Open Door Animal Sanctuary

6065 Duda Road

P.O. Box 870

House Springs, MO 63051

636-671-3643, odas.org

Robyn is LN's digital editor and a staff writer. Proud alumna of Notre Dame High School in St. Louis and Eastern Illinois University. Avid coffee drinker, dog lover, concertgoer and word nerd.

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