- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 16, 2013

Chloe the Shih Tzu sashays her way across the hardwood floor, a hot-pink vest secured around her small body, her sandy-colored hair pulled into a tiny ponytail to show off her warm brown eyes.

She stops at the feet of Abby Dunlap, who is sitting in a cozy armchair in their Vienna, Va., townhouse, and waits quietly to be scooped up so she can snuggle into the cushions.

Not a bad deal for a dog who survived being stabbed seven times with a steak knife.

“I was curious to see how she would behave since she’d been stabbed a few times,” said Dr. Dunlap, a veterinarian, as the 3-year-old pup stretched out beside her on a recent weekday morning. “But she certainly hasn’t let it get her down.”

Chloe came into Dr. Dunlap’s life about eight months ago under extraordinary circumstances.

In September, she was known as Coco and was living with her owner in Southeast D.C. Her owner had a brother who was on medication for his history of mental illness, including dementia. But after failing to take his medicine one day, he grabbed a 4-inch knife and attacked the little dog, calling her a demon and claiming she was Satan. Police rescued the young Shih Tzu and took her to an animal hospital, where doctors discovered that, miraculously, the knife had not hit any vital organs.

“She was very lucky,” said Scott Giacoppo, a spokesman for the Washington Humane Society. “Just imagine what it would be like to pick up that dog and start stabbing her. It’s heart-wrenching.”

Among the many responsibilities Mr. Giacoppo’s agency is tasked with, one of the toughest is handling animal abuse cases.

“I’ve seen animals stabbed, beaten, set on fire and discarded like trash. It’s horrible,” Mr. Giacoppo said. “But we get stories like Chloe’s and it brings a smile to our faces that we can make a difference.”

Chloe was stitched and bandaged and looking for a foster home where she could recover, since she could not return to her former home. Dr. Dunlap, who works at the animal hospital that cared for Chloe, volunteered to take her.

“In a lot of cases, when you’re dealing with a family that has emotional or psychological problems, they know what’s best for the animal, as much as it hurts” Mr. Giacoppo said.

At the time, Dr. Dunlap and her family had recently lost their dog and were awaiting the birth of their second son.

“It took a little bit of time for me to trust her and figure out if we wanted to keep her,” she said, but now Chloe is like her shadow.

“When we come in the house, she presents us with one of her toys,” Dr. Dunlap said. “She really likes to run and get it.”

She endeared herself to Dr. Dunlap’s husband, Zachary, too, and made friends with many of the dogs in their neighborhood. She’s quiet and sneaky enough to occasionally snatch food off the children’s dinner table — her favorite treat is a banana — and she also makes Dr. Dunlap’s 7-month-old son laugh when she licks his fingers.

“Not having her as a puppy, we’re learning who she is,” Dr. Dunlap said. “It’s been kind of interesting to figure it out for ourselves.”