You’ve come a long way, Ellie

How a Southern pup found a happy home in Yankee country.

Debbie and Cris Ferreira of Mahopac were heartbroken when their beloved Pitbull mix crossed over Rainbow Bridge in 2015. Devoted pet lovers, they didn’t know how or what would fill the space in their hearts and their house ever again. But nine months later Debbie saw a picture of a gorgeous puppy on Petfinder, and fell in love all over again. “I knew instantly I had to have her,” she says.

After a quick consult with her hubby, she filled out an application with the Shaggy Dog Rescue organization out of Houston, which had the dog. She waited anxiously to hear. After a thorough interview with the pet “foster parents” Sharon and Marion Chamblee, Debbie and Cris were approved to adopt the pumpkin colored, mini wire-haired Dachshund/Terrier mix. Seems simple right? Not so fast: Their challenge was that this little “pumpkin” was located in Houston, more than 1,700 miles (and a 25-plus hour drive) from their home.

Every epic story has a hero, so in steps Greg Mahle of Rescue Road Trips. Once a month, Greg packs his specially outfitted rig full of Southern rescue dogs that are waiting to be adopted by families in the Northeast. Assisted by dozens of volunteer “angels” who meet the rig at stops along the way, he makes the 4,000-mile round-trip drive to deliver these animals to their new families. It was right before Christmas in 2015 when Greg stepped off the rig and handed the puppy into Debbie’s loving arms. “I burst into tears the moment I saw her,” she recalls.

Renamed Ellie, the puppy quickly made herself right at home in Mahopac. Debbie reports “Ellie is as sweet as can be, gentle, loving and playful. She’s just the perfect dog.” 

The Ferreiras knew what to expect with adopting a puppy. But what they didn’t anticipate was the outpouring of care, concern and support they received from the Shaggy Dog Rescue community. Through social media, they have stayed in touch with Ellie’s foster parents and got to know the owners of Ellie’s litter-mates. Cris and Debbie have even attended a reunion party for 28 Shaggy Dog Rescue alumni and their owners from our area. “They are a community of kind, loving and compassionate people who are deeply committed to rescuing animals,” Debbie says. 

Now Ellie’s days are filled with toys and treats, cuddles and belly rubs. It’s a happy ending to a rough start. Although some may think it was Ellie who won the lottery the day the Ferreiras adopted her, Debbie disagrees: “Sweet Miss Ellie, that little heartbeat at our feet, she made our house a home again.” 

For more, visit Shaggy Dog Rescue on Facebook or

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